Robert Gibbs is Obama’s Press Secretary. In that role, he answers questions from the media during weekday press briefings. He also goes on morning news programs every so often to reach a larger audience. The conventional wisdom in Washington is that Mr. Gibbs is a very smart man and the most influential Press Secretary in recent memory (in the sense that he, unlike many Press Secretaries, also has a larger role as a policy adviser).
However, I think he sucks at his job. His briefings are boring, he allows the front rows of the briefing room to dominate the briefings (as opposed to allowing other news organizations, which sit farther back, to ask more questions), and he is incredibly arrogant.
Case in point: this morning’s interview with Fox and Friends’ Gretchen Carlson. Ms. Carlson, who co-hosted the Saturday Early Show on CBS before defecting to Fox News in 2005, asked a series of simple questions that Mr. Gibbs couldn’t answer.
Obama opposed the troop surge. He actually said it would make the situation worse, not better.
The troop surge allowed the Anbar Awakening to succeed. Critics will say the Anbar Awakening occurred before the troop surge began. Although this is true, they come to the wrong conclusion. Critics claim the Anbar Awakening would have taken place whether the troop surge occurred or not. That is a misguided attempt at rewriting history.
Without America’s long-term commitment to stability in Iraq, sectarian violence would have continued unabated. Charles Krauthammer detailed the surge’s success in an April 13, 2007 column, writing:
The news from Anbar is the most promising. Only last fall, the Marines’ leading intelligence officer there concluded that the U.S. had essentially lost the fight to al-Qaeda. Yet, just this week, the marine commandant, Gen. James Conway, returned from a four-day visit to the province and reported that we “have turned the corner.”//
Why? Because, as Lt. Col. David Kilcullen, the Australian counterinsurgency adviser to Gen. David Petraeus, has written, 14 of the 18 tribal leaders in Anbar have turned against al-Qaeda. As a result, thousands of Sunni recruits are turning up at police stations where none could be seen before. For the first time, former insurgent strongholds such as Ramadi have a Sunni police force fighting essentially on our side.
Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a major critic of the Bush war policy, now reports that in Anbar, al-Qaeda is facing “a real and growing groundswell of Sunni tribal opposition.” And that “this is a crucial struggle and it is going our way — for now.”
If the U.S. left Iraq, how would the Sunnis be able to stand up to al-Qaeda? The increase in troop levels not gave the military the resources it needed to fight off insurgents, which in turn gave Sunnis . Yes, the Anbar Awakening began prior to the troop surge, but the increased levels of troops and new civilian and military leadership (Defense Sec. Robert Gates and General David Petraeus, respectively) signaled to friend and foe alike that the U.S. wasn’t giving up. That, in turn, accelerated and extended the Anbar Awakening.
Back to Robert Gibbs, he really is embarrassing. Johnny Dollar has audio of Gretchen defending her interview:
UPDATE: Newsbusters has a post detailing how Gibbs was pressed by five of the six shows he went on, yet only unleashed his arrogant side for the Fox News interview.