Keith Ellison wants Robert Gibbs sacked

Who are you saying ought to be drug tested?
Who are you saying ought to be drug tested?

Keith Ellison is none too happy with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs for putting down President Obama's liberal critics in a new interview. In fact, he wants Gibbs fired.

The episode is further evidence that the president's uneasy truce with progressives has been badly frayed by what they see as his pathological conciliation on everything from health-care and finance reform to Afghanistan and Guantanamo.

In an interview with The Hill that ran today, Gibbs dismissed the presidents critics on the left as unrealistic and unsatisfiable.

"I hear these people saying he's like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested," Gibbs said. "I mean, it's crazy."

The press secretary dismissed the "professional left" in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, "They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we've eliminated the Pentagon. That's not reality."

Of those who complain that Obama caved to centrists on issues such as healthcare reform, Gibbs said: "They wouldn't be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president."

Gibbs didn't mention anyone by name, but Ellison, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, clearly took it personally, and was quick to fire back. He told the Huffington Post today that Gibbs had "walked over the line." Asked if Gibbs should retire, Ellison had this to say:

"I think that'd be fair, yeah. That'd be fair, because this isn't the first time. And, again, people of all political shades worked very hard to help the president become the president. Why would he want to go out and deliberately insult the president's base? And why would he confuse legitimate critique with some sort of lack of loyalty. Isn't this what the far right does? Punishes people who are not ideologically aligned with President Bush?"

Apparently Gibbs is feeling heat from the blow-back. He has walked back his initial statements, saying that he spoke "inartfully," and acknowledging that "the change we want hasn't come fast enough for many Americans."

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