On January 5th (Tuesday), press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked whether President Obama supports televising the healthcare reform bill reconciliation debates and discussions as requested by the open letter from the CEO of C-SPAN. Mr. Gibbs responded by saying that he had not seen this letter (doubtful) and thus couldn’t comment on it. The next day (yesterday), Mr. Gibbs was asked again about the subject to which he replied that he had already covered this on the previous day and his answer would be similar.
Astute readers will pick up on this immediately: Mr. Gibbs never answered the question. He instead deflected the question. Let me clarify this for the slower readers. The question was whether President Obama supports televising the healthcare reform bill reconciliation meetings. Not whether the White House has seen, read or had comments on the C-SPAN CEO’s letter. The letter was used in the question as an example of the request for this exposure of the process.
First, we need to determine whether or not Mr. Gibbs has a problem with comprehension of the english language. The question was simple and direct. It didn’t involve any acronyms, complex words or obscure references so it couldn’t be that hard to understand. According to the Flesch-Kincaid analysis within Microsoft Word, the question as posed is at the high school sophomore level (10.2). For argument’s sake, let’s assume that Mr. Gibbs understood the question.
The next step in analyzing this event is to determine is what options did Mr. Gibbs have with potential answers. Let’s examine a few:
|1. Don’t answer the question. Dodge and weave.||This was the choice made albeit in a fashion that was pretty obvious in the dodge. Who cares whether they’ve seen the letter|
|2. Say that the administration is in support of public viewing of the debate||This opens a can of worms. Any wheeling and dealing needed by the democrats to keep the 60 votes in the senate would be aired. This is possibly more damaging as those involved are already bailing out knowing that they are unelectable this fall. The congressional dems would start despising the White House because it failed to provide cover for this process. About the only positive for this choice is that it shows that Obama is keeping his promises for an open and transparent government and delivering somewhat on the “Change” mantra.|
|3. Say that it is up to congress, but if they want it closed, it’s up to them||This deferral technique makes the White House look weak and indecisive. Furthermore, it tacitly says that Obama isn’t adhering to his promises. It keeps the dems unified and protected and might shield further “retirements” from the congressional members.|
None of the options are all that palatable for the administration, but I think the choice made isn’t a good one and will only add more kindling to the fires burning close to the democrat camps, including the President’s.
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