I suppose Barack Obama should have expected that he would come under fire from the netroots for hiring a spokesman who previously worked for a group that ran anti-Howard Dean ads back in 2003-2004.
Robert Gibbs was was spokesperson for John Kerry in 2003, and he worked under the direction of Jim Jordan. Both of them grew to detest Howard Dean, as they saw their frontrunner candidate slip in his position to Howard Dean over the year. For Jordan, it was a case of terrible strategic advice that he was fired, but he went on to position himself below the media production through in 2004 and did quite well. Robert Gibbs remained a spokesperson, but his next gig wasn’t Barack Obama until after Obama won the primary in 2004. Before that, Gibbs became the spokesman for a new group called “Americans for Jobs, Health Care and Progressive Values”. A group that promptly created the most disgusting ad I’ve ever seen occur in a Democratic primary against Howard Dean.
The ad (view the ad here [and YouTube]) slowly moved in on a Time Magazine cover featuring bin Laden, zooming in on a close-up of Osama’s eyes, while saying that Howard Dean was an unqualified Democratic candidate because of his lack of military or foreign experience.
Tricia Enright, who was the spokeswoman for Howard Dean at the time, summed the ad up best, saying: “Whoever is behind this should crawl out from underneath their rock and have the courage to say who they are.” But Robert Gibbs, who was the spokesman for the group, embraced the slime ad against Dean, and refused to say who had funded the ad. Now sure, you can say that Gibbs was just doing his job. But Gibbs wasn’t just aligned with the group, he was in the leadership. The group took seed money from crooked former Senator Robert Torricelli to get off the ground, and then went out and raised over a million to run the ad. Gibbs was one of three people that made that ad happen.
The criticism comes from Jerome Armstrong, who was the netroots guy for Mark Warner until he lost interest in the presidency. (I’m not even going to get into the astrology jokes.)
When somebody points out that John Edwards hired a blogger who’s frothing at the mouth about religious belief, daring a libel suit with the Duke Lacrosse team, and likes metaphorically poking Christians in the eye with Virgin Mary semen jokes, we’re told that criticism of Edwards is just plain McCarthyism. That holding Edwards accountable for hiring the bloggers was outrageous, a manifestation of the right-wing noise machine, a out-of-line smear (in the form of, um, quoting her) etc., blah blah blah…
But Obama’s spokesman working on an ad against Dean (and, presumably, for Kerry) from a bunch of years back…. that’s fair game. That’s a major issue that Obama ought to respond to right now.