Opinion Brief

Nancy Pelosi vs. the White House

Speaker Pelosi and White House spokesman Robert Gibbs are sparring over Gibbs' comment that the GOP could win the House. Why are those fighting words?

House Democrats are condemning White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs for suggesting, on NBC's "Meet the Press," that enough seats are in play that Republicans could win control of the House in November. While Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reportedly called Gibbs' comments "politically inept," other Dems are fuming that Republicans have been able to exploit Gibbs' words to raise money and woo lobbyists. Did Gibbs mess up, or is Pelosi just uncomfortable with the truth? (Watch a Fox discussion of Gibbs' revelation)

Pelosi is over-reacting: "There was nothing objectionable about what Gibbs said," says Jed Lewison in Daily Kos. Besides just "stating the obvious" — "everybody knows Republicans could take the majority" — he also outlined "a pretty damn solid game plan" to keep that from happening: Remind voters why they shouldn't trust these House Republicans.
"Nobody wants to hear these words: 'Speaker John Boehner'"

Gibbs flubbed, big time: By conceding the possibility of defeat, Gibbs is handicapping a party that needs to rally its base to "prevent a GOP wave," says Mary Katherine Ham in The Weekly Standard. Meanwhile, he energized the GOP base and handed Republicans the ammunition they need to raise cash: The perception that Dems are officially in trouble. No wonder House Democrats "are not-so-privately fuming."
"Pelosi and Gibbs may need beer summit"

Gibbs is trying to help Pelosi: It could backfire, but Gibbs is following a deliberate strategy, says John Dickerson in Slate. In an election where "neither party benefits much from positive messages," the best way to get "dispirited" Democrats to the polls is the specter of a GOP takeover. And he's managing expectations: If Republicans don't win the 39 seats to take over the House, it's not such "a huge defeat" for the Democrats.
"Could Republicans take the House?"

There's a bigger House-White House tiff afoot: The tension is grounded in more than Gibbs' comment, says Greg Sargent in The Washington Post. Pelosi and House Democrats were already miffed that, while they've done the lion's share of "heavy lifting" to pass Obama's agenda, they're paying the price for the fact that big items are still on the table due to Senate and White House dithering. Gibbs' reminder of that was "particularly galling."
"What's really driving tensions...? It's jobs, stupid!?"

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