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My Request for an Apology from Mr. Gibbs

The story about how the White House Press Secretary suggested that the President’s critics on the left yearn for the dismantling of the Pentagon and should be drug tested rankles me because it’s not in keeping with the civility that marked the 2008 Obama campaign or his first year in office.

So a few days ago, I used the White House contact form at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact to write the President the following message:

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to ask you to instruct Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to apologize for his recent remarks saying that people who question your accomplishments should be drug tested.

Mr. Gibbs has apparently refused to retract his remarks, according to a Dayton Daily News article on August 13, 2010 available at http://www.daytondailynews.com/opinion/columnists/dana-milbank-professional-left-still-waiting-for-a-white-house-apology-859952.html.

One of the negative features of the past Administration was its branding of its opponents as unAmerican. You have put an end to that practice and I am grateful for that. But branding Administration opponents as drug users isn’t a whole lot better in terms of civility.

I say this as someone who believes that the core criticism by Mr Gibbs is reasonable. Your administration isn’t being given credit for real accomplishments and it’s fair to point that out.

It’s also fair that critics of the Administration have valid points too. It is not to wish the dismantling of the Pentagon to express dismay at the fact that Gitmo is still open for business and that you intend to reserve the right to hold some people indefinitely without charge. We can argue over whether that is appropriate. But your representatives shouldn’t suggest that such critics are closet drug users.

I’m not calling for Mr. Gibbs’ firing. I’m not threatening to stay home in November. I just want you to encourage Mr. Gibbs to live up to your example of civility.

Daniel Cornwall

If you’re concerned about Mr. Gibbs’ lapse of civility towards opponents, I encourage you to contact the White House as well.

Based on writing to Presidents of both parties off and on since the 1970s, I’m not expecting a meaningful response. But I think it is important that those of us who do care about civility make our voices heard.

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