Gibbs comes prepared

GIBBS COMES PREPARED…. Glenn Beck talked about it, which means right-wing activists are worked up about it, which means Republicans lawmakers have embraced it as a serious matter. As is always the case, the political media establishment notices the uproar, and decides it must be a legitimate “story.”

The issue, of course, is “czars.” The White House press corps, picking up on baseless whining from GOP lawmakers, pressed Robert Gibbs today for some answers. The press secretary came prepared.

Gibbs said GOP “silence was deafening” on the issue of czars during former President George W. Bush’s administration.

Republicans didn’t raise the issue, he said, when Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) pushed a Y2K czar or when Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) called for a manufacturing czar.

“You’ve read Sen. Bennett was pushing for a Y2K czar that he didn’t think was powerful enough,” Gibbs said. “You’ve seen Lamar Alexander call for a manufacturing czar.”

He also brought up the name of Randall Tobias, a Bush administration deputy Secretary of State and “abstinence czar” who resigned after it was discovered his name was on a prostitution services call list.

“You know, somebody referred to in the Bush administration as the abstinence czar was on the D.C. madam’s list,” Gibbs said. “Now, did that violate the Constitution or simply offend our sensibilities?”

That’s a pretty solid response, which should help drive the point home — this is a hopeless “controversy” over a bipartisan White House practice that’s been around for decades. Indeed, some of the very same Republicans criticizing the use of “czars” now actively promoted and encouraged the use of “czars” before Obama became president.

The question, then, is whether news outlets will pretend this is a legitimate story anyway, by virtue of GOP complaints. After all, as ABC News reminded us last week, the media “loves a good fight — even when the charges are unfounded.”

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation