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Gloomy Gibbs' Daily Downer

4:48 PM, Mar 5, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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We try to fire up the ol' flatscreen in the Weekly Standard headquarters every now and then to watch the daily press briefing. In so doing, we've noticed Gibbs' almost comical tendency to make a bad economic situation sound even more demoralizing. Since Obama's nomination, the White House has been so persistent in its negative rhetoric about the economy that the first question at Obama's first prime-time press conference was whether he was in danger of "talking down" the economy.

While Obama's rhetoric is heavily dependent on the word "crisis," the examination of when said crisis might become a "catastrophe," and other similar flourishes, Gibbs prefers to talk the economy down in his characteristically everyman tone. While Obama focuses on the big picture, Gibbs likes details. He focuses on specific badly performing stocks, naming them repeatedly, and forecasts bad numbers for reports that haven't even been released yet.

On Tuesday, Gibbs hit the upcoming jobs report with a blast of sunshine:

And look, let me -- let me look ahead. We have unemployment numbers coming out on Friday. I don't anticipate that they're going to be good. I don't know anything, I'm just surmising. But I don't think that's -- I don't think that speaks to the implementation of the recovery plan. But I do believe and understand, and the President believes that we have taken and are continuing to take the steps that we need to get the economy back on track.

Today, when asked about the viability of GM, Gibbs didn't just address GM. Oh, no! Instead, he drubbed one of the few car companies not asking for federal money:

"It's important to remember. GM's not the only one. Toyota's (U.S.) sales were down 40 percent last month."

Is that important to remember, or could Gibbs have covered the GM question without dragging Toyota into the mess, by name, on national TV? Gibbs needn't avoid serious economic truths, but his habit of busting out overly specific, demoralizing soundbites in the service of excuse-making for the administration's failures leaves something to be desired.