The Gibbs-Pelosi Spat

by Dana M. Perino

Day three of the spat between Robert Gibbs and congressional Democrats is well underway. I can see cutting them all a break, but it is fun to watch an intra-party fight, especially when they keep pouring fuel on the fire.

The press secretary deserves a break for being conversational and truthful. The speaker and her team deserve a break because they have to keep their caucus together for upcoming votes, and to convince their donors that it’s not a waste of money to fund the Democrats in competitive races. I suppose it could be papered over today by Gibbs. He could say, “We intend to win every competitive race and the president will be out there vigorously campaigning, and the speaker is right — she knows her races better than I do.” Then it’ll start to go away.

Still, neither side shows much willingness to give in enough. Today we see Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, saying that there is no way the Republicans will take over the House. That is unbelievable and cheap spin. But I understand what he’s doing.

In the lead up to the mid-terms in 2006 — while we knew we’d lose some seats, there was a path we could see (on rare sunny days with a light breeze and a temperate 76 degrees) where we would keep the majority. Finding the right balance is tricky — being realistic and credible while also being optimistic and upbeat in order to drive voter enthusiasm. Democrats know they’ll lose seats in November — I think what surprised people is that their internal polling at the White House must be such that they really think they could be dealing with a Republican House majority for the next two years.

This all started with one comment on a Sunday show. Sunday shows are a lasting tradition that I loved as a kid, and even more so now that with new technology I can see all of them at any time I want. But even though I have loved the Sunday shows for years, when I was the press secretary, I used to think that nothing good could come out of doing them.

I think I was right.

Dana Perino is former press secretary to Pres. George W. Bush.

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