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Worst Week in Washington

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs may be wishing he'd held his tongue

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By Chris Cillizza
Sunday, July 18, 2010

It took only 17 words for White House press secretary Robert Gibbs to set off the circular firing squad.

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When Gibbs told "Meet the Press" host David Gregory last Sunday that "there is no doubt there are enough seats in play that could cause Republicans to gain control" of the House, he was, of course, stating the obvious.

Political prognosticators of all sorts -- including your humble Fix -- have long been talking, writing and talking some more about the fact that a Republican takeover of the House is possible (if not probable) this fall.

But sometimes in Washington, frankness isn't a popular trait. And, boy, did Gibbs learn that the hard way.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) led a closed-door meeting of Democratic members that amounted to an extended Gibbs smackdown -- the proceedings of which inevitably were leaked to the media. In a subsequent interview, Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (N.J.) nicely summed up the sentiment in the room. "What the hell do they think we've been doing the last 12 months?" he said of the White House. "We're the ones who have been taking the tough votes."

Pelosi's meeting was followed by another meeting -- this one between House Democrats and President Obama -- that Gibbs described on Thursday as "quite productive." Ahem.

Republicans, meanwhile, could barely contain their glee at seeing their message -- "We can take the House back, really we can" -- seconded by the official White House mouthpiece. House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) said that Gibbs had thrown House Democrats "under the bus," while National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Tex.) played a tape -- how quaint! -- of Gibbs' comments at a gathering of House Republicans.

Robert Gibbs, for saying what everyone was thinking, you had the "Worst Week in Washington." Congrats, or something.

Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail chris.cillizza@wpost.comwith your nominees.

Can't remember who "won" worst week last week?


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