by Ken Feltman
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is showing what stress can do to a presidential press secretary. Today he blasted liberal critics of President Obama: “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.”
Gibbs is not alone. White House staff members are confiding to friends that the atmosphere is at best pessimistic. Some staff complain that they get hostile stares from top-level presidential advisors – and the President and First Lady – if they offer anything that might be taken as criticism. A staff member who cautioned a few weeks ago that the First Lady’s vacation in Spain might draw critical media and Republican attention has been called on the carpet by a senior staffer who apparently shouted, “I hope you’re happy now!”
Staffers say that Obama is not able to accept advice. He interprets suggestions as criticisms. This has caused people to try to stay out of sight. Now, with the poll numbers plunging, the atmosphere is toxic. Gallows humor is everywhere. People are seeking positions in the private sector.
The White House is an unhappy place and the senior staff seems unable to tell the president to change his management style. The First Lady is becoming know for a vindictive nature.
The test will come after the November election. Every embattled White House gets a little ugly as a rough election approaches. If things lighten up by the holiday season, this current dark period will fade away.