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Bloggers Blast Obama Spokesman

Barack Obama's campaign is being hit again, this time by bloggers who are taking aim at chief spokesman Robert Gibbs over his role in a controversial attack ad that ran early in the 2004 presidential campaign.

The barrage leveled against Gibbs was kicked off by Democratic blogger Jerome Armstrong, a founder of, in a scathing indictment titled, "Robert Gibbs, the drag on Obama."

The genesis of Armstrong's rage against Gibbs has to do with Gibbs's involvement during the '04 cycle in the secretive 527 political group "Americans for Jobs, Health Care and Progressive Values," which created the infamous Osama bin Laden ad attacking Dean for lacking military and foreign affairs experience.

In his blog posting, Armstrong called the ad "the single most disgusting ad I've ever seen occur in a Democratic primary." He suggested that Gibbs is two-faced, asking, "Does Gibbs still believe that a Presidential candidate with 'no military or foreign policy experience' is 'unqualified'? Then how, Gibbs, is Barack Obama going compete with John McCain on foreign policy?"

Armstrong, you might have guessed, worked for the Dean campaign in 2004 and, more recently, for Mark Warner, the most fleeting of '08 Democratic presidential aspirants.

"Every time I see Gibbs as Obama's campaign voice, I get further and further from seeing Obama as a candidate that is strategically smart, different, or an effective transformative leader. I really don't know what Obama is building," Armstrong wrote.

The thinking among some Democratic operatives is that Armstrong may just be bitter. After all, Armstrong was left out of the presidential sweepstakes fun after his candidate (Warner) bailed out of the race. Interestingly, Armstrong is consulting now for Sen. John Kerry. (Also interesting: Gibbs worked for Kerry briefly in '04, and Kerry still hasn't endorsed another candidate since pulling out of the race himself.)

"Sounds like somebody is jealous he's not on a campaign," said one Democratic operative. Another Democratic campaign source not affiliated with either the Obama or Clinton campaigns defended Gibbs, saying the Obama spokesman is "not a mercenary, he's a professional." In other words, "He's paid to be an advocate for other people's views."

Jennifer Burton, a partner with the brand new media consulting firm Envision Communications backed up that view, saying Gibbs was "a hired gun, just doing his job" for the 527 that created the fear-mongering Osama ad against Dean in 2004.

But influential liberal blogger Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of Daily Kos, who together with Armstrong co-wrote "Crashing the Gates," piled on, calling Gibbs a "smear-meister best known for his work trashing other Democrats.

"Obama clearly dipped into the slimiest corners of DC to pluck out Gibbs," Markos wrote.


But after a week of fast-and-loose mudslinging with the Clinton campaign, it appears Gibbs (perhaps under orders from Obama?) has had enough of fighting back. He did not respond to messages seeking comment on the bloggers' brutal postings.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  February 23, 2007; 5:36 PM ET
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I'm as loyal a Democrat as they come, but I'm so damned sick of the Daily Kos/Cindy Sheehan wing of the party I could spit.

Posted by: Kate | February 23, 2007 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Well put, Kate!

Another died-in-the-wool, liberal Dem here, and I wish Kos, Sheehan & Co. would just take up knitting and shut the heck up.

It's called being a professional campaign operative, folks. Just doin' his job...

And Mary Ann, you're just encouraging them. Stop reprinting what some bitter blogger writes.

Posted by: Max | February 23, 2007 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Armstrong, Kos, Sheehan, etc. are rearranging themselves to form the traditional Democratic circular firing squad. Come on, folks . . . Do you really want four more years of reality-challenged Christian Right/Republican Federal Government?

Posted by: oldhonky | February 23, 2007 7:49 PM | Report abuse

The "Democratic circular firing squad" is exactly what these guys are attacking. Obama is selling himself as a new hope, above the politics of the past. Yet, he is being advised by a guy who engineered one of the dirtiest attacks in a Democratic primary in recent memory.

To say that daily kos and mydd are part of the firing squad and this guy isnt is absurd beyond belief.

Working for a 527 and attacking a fellow Dem is one thing. Using Bin Laden to attack a fellow dem? I have worked for campaigns and I would resign and starve over that.

Posted by: Will C | February 23, 2007 9:55 PM | Report abuse

The fallout from the Branson/Clinton/Obama dustup makes it clear that Gibbs is out of place on the Obama team. He responded to Clinton by dragging Obama into the muck. Obama has since disavowed that response, says that it was made without his input, and claims that he wants to stay above the fray. But what did he think he was going to get by hiring a muckraker as his spokesman?

Sure, he needs to run a tough campaign. But he has bet his brand on running a clean campaign. If he wants to win, he needs to find people who can fight hard while maintaining his principles. It doesn't look like Gibbs is one of those people.

Posted by: Andrew S | February 23, 2007 10:52 PM | Report abuse

the dailykos wing of the party includes the following posters:

Harry Reid, Teddy Kennedy, Tom Vilsack, Jim Webb, JOhn Conyers, Barbara Boxer, Russ Feingold .. I won't go on with all of the important Democratic politicians who have posted there, or who came to Yearlykos.

It is an open community blog. Not everyone agrees with everyone else. That said, Cindy Sheehan is totally opposed to the Iraqi war, and now so are Russ Feingold and Tom Vilsack.

Jim Webb was drawn into the race by bloggers, who while they post primarily at RaisingKaine also post at dailykos. And Dailykos was important in helping Jim raise money online.

The criticism because of Gibbs is in part because it is viewed as a betrayal. When Obama was running third in his Senate primary there were people on dailykos advocating his candidacy. That he would use someone with that kind baggage is bothersome, especially because Obama claims he is trying to change politics - to what, the gutter that Toricelli helped fund, and for which Gibbs spoke?

I have my fair share of disagreements with kos, but I am an active participant on his site. I think the criticism he and Jerome offer have nothing to do with sour grapes, and everything to do with wanting a different kind of politics from supposedly progressive democrats.

Posted by: teacherken | February 23, 2007 11:45 PM | Report abuse

What's left to say but ditto, TeacherKen!

Posted by: TeacherKenFan | February 24, 2007 1:32 AM | Report abuse

Is this correct: Obama has hired a finance chair, Pritzker, who contributed to the maximum to Bush-Cheney and a spokesman responsible for the 2004 "Dean likes Osama" ad?

Posted by: Tirza | February 24, 2007 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Wait - a politican or one of his workers having used a sleezeball tactic? OMG, tell me this is not so. I am so shattered now that I realize that neither party focuses on the real issues that affect the middle class of America.

Posted by: zendrell | February 24, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

let's remember that hillary plays dirtier pool than barack.

Posted by: meuphys | February 24, 2007 6:48 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe that some commenters here are conflating Markos and Cindy Sheehan, who are hardly allies.

Furthermore, how ANY Democrat could defend Robert Gibbs is inexplicable. The ad that tied Howard Dean to Osama Bin Laden is as despicable as anything produced by the Swift Boat Liars or those who tied Max Cleland to fact, it is WORSE because it was created by Democrats to attack another Democrat.

For Obama to claim that he wants to personify a different kind of positive politics is preposterous when he has a snake like Gibbs in a leadership position on payroll of the Obama campaign. It's the height of hypocrisy for Obama.

Posted by: Maura | February 24, 2007 8:37 PM | Report abuse

$50 says half the posters here never even saw this Osama/Dean ad. And $100 says that 99% of the electorate has even seen or heard of this ad. Talk about a tempest in a teapot.

Posted by: RiverRed | February 24, 2007 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Tempest in a teapot or not, if you say you want to transform national politics into something classy & new, and you use a merciless political mercinary who "takes on the viewpoint of whoever hires" him, that's what George bush did for everybody in the admin, pentagon, state, agency, Doj, etc, etc (IE nothing new about that). This kind of staff choice will become a huge weak point for Billary to attack with their own 'assassins'.

Posted by: TexasEags | February 25, 2007 7:38 AM | Report abuse

OMG, there ARE two parties?!? (The dims and the rips) all their leaders belong to one group--Trilateral Commission. I was told years ago that the superrich cabal was going to make running for office so expensive that only the people they choose can afford to run. They were also going to eliminate the write-in ballot so their politicians do not have to depend on the voter to win election to office. Of course, if the only people that run for office belong to the cabal, why bother with the write-in ballot? Guess it eliminates the chance of a voter outrage and they have a chance to put someone else's name instead of the cabal's choice.

With the above being said, all the running for office is nothing but a show and each candidate knows what to say and when to say it. Make a good show and keep the people happy and they won't know any difference. The greatest fear is that one of the partys might pick up the wrong que cards.

Do the politicians discuss or debate the issues the people are interested in??? Not only NO but Hell No. All they do is use semantics...with semantics, you pass neither information nor education, all it is is verbal masturbation.

Posted by: Paul | February 26, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

When will the bloggers (or evangelical or union leaders et al) learn that the elections are not about them or their egos? This is yet another example of some self-aggrandizing internet bully trying to show the world that they can, in Koz' shameful words (from an WaPo article last week), "take [someone] out." Doesn't matter to them what or who they harm in the process as long as they get their names in the papers. (Or, perhaps, in this case their personal revenge.) What a frackin' non-issue... and how sad, given the number of real ones out there.

Posted by: hurricanewarningdc | February 26, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Those of us who belong to the Cindy Sheehan/ Daily Kos/Al Sharpton/Saddam Hussein/Benedict Arnold wing of the Democratic Party at least aren't Clinton groupies. The Clintons should be arrested for impersonating Democrats.

Barack done good to let Hillary Clinton stew and fret over her name being sullied by the truth and withdrawing honorably. Barack made a mistake hiring a hit man but he will make many more. He will still be the genuine article that Hillary so wishes she could be but can't.

Best, Terry

Posted by: terry hallinan | February 26, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I really got shocked from this so called Obama!He is African disents and should have a different foreign policy than Bush.If you hear what he said about Iran,Pakistan and the Islamic world lately you will wonder if this is just an inferiority complex dated back to his origin.This man is dangerous if he believes what he is saying.He can't deny that his middle name is Hussein,should have to be proud of that and keep going or to say Islamic world are more dangerous than the Soviet Union because they don'calculate,or restrain,nuke Iran,Pakistan!!.......IC from the roots.

Posted by: Carmen | February 26, 2007 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Egos and superficial standards should never define our politics and politicians. As a matter of fact, those who can make you believe absurdities (like these murk-racking bloggers) will make you commit atrocities. Be wise.

As for Mary Anne Akers, don't join the club by reproducing these blogs.

Posted by: Herbert-Jean | February 27, 2007 1:23 AM | Report abuse

As an independent, i love it when the candidates show their true colors. Clintonians, Obamaians, etc. are all the same, they just want your vote and they will always eat their young....

Posted by: Mark | February 27, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Carmen, that was one of the most insightful things I've ever read. How did you become so eloquent?

-so called tom

Posted by: tom | February 27, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

teacherken, are we now to take guilt by association to be as honored as your innocence by association claim?

Posted by: teachwhat? | February 28, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

My side on this is that we do need to stop shooting at each other.
But, that said, I'm really offended by any defense of these types of politics, especially with comments like, "Oh, he was just a hired gun slinger, doing his job."
The Dean ad was despicable. (Yes, I saw it. Don't be an ass.)
Obama's spokesperson should apologize for that sort of junk politics before we let him off the hook.
I don't like James Carville in Hillary Clinton's camp either. But I don't think Carville has ever encouraged anyone to compare another Democrat with Osama Bin Laden.

Posted by: Jan | March 1, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Obama hiring Gibbs reminds me of the old advice, "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." If he doesn't hire Gibbs, Gibbs will likely work against him on another's campaign.

Posted by: Rosie | March 2, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

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