Gibbs Prepares for His Starring Role

"You have to every day understand that everybody has a job to do," he said. "And anybody that questions the administration, if I'm standing at the podium, or vice versa, I think does that because they have a job to do in covering this administration, and then the workings of a real representative democracy. I do think it's important that you try not to take the questions personally."

It was pointed out that there may have been some times during the campaign when he probably took it personally a little bit.

"Sure," he said. "I don't think there's any doubt….My guess is if you took every one of [the tough questions] personally, you probably wouldn't make it through a whole month without becoming so enraged that you didn't want to talk to anybody in the press. And I don't think that's probably a very good way of operating."

Scott McClellan suggested that Gibbs limit the number of briefings that he does personally within a week and bring in other senior administration officials, to do briefings so as to help the administration get its more substantive message out.

Gibbs said former White House press secretary Mike McCurry gave him similar advice and he agrees.

"The American people are obviously very, very smart," Gibbs said. "They're well ahead on virtually everything. They're well ahead of their representatives in Washington. They understand that the economy is bad, that it's likely to get worse before it gets better. And that this isn't going to get better overnight."

More substantive briefings might help "the American people understand where he or she, if it's a Cabinet official, where they want to take the country, what kinds of plans that they want to implement to help make the lives of average everyday voters a little bit better."

Gibbs suggested that the Bush administration -- "particularly as it relates to the economic recovery or the money that's been used to help banks and to relieve the stresses on our financial system -- if they could do it all over again, I bet one of the things that they might tell you is they probably needed a stronger communications strategy for letting people know and understand how this was going to work and what this money was going to be used for."

Gibbs said that in light of recent reports of insufficient oversight of the $700 billion allocated to help stabilize the nation's economic systems, and reports that some of that money might be spent on executive bonuses, the Obama administration will try to shed more light on the allocation of the funds after taking office.

"Absolutely," he said. "There's no question that this and many other economic problems are going to land on President-elect Obama's plate on Jan. 20. We're a little hamstrung because of the notion that there is only one president at a time."

Lockhart reminded Gibbs to be careful in his words.

"You know, one of the things is that there is tremendous power in everything you say," said the former Clinton spokesman. "As the White House press secretary you're speaking for the leader of the free world and the most powerful institution in the world, the U.S. government. I think I had had the job for a couple of days and someone had made some allegation against the president, I very casually told a reporter that this guy was a liar. It became a big headline and the next thing you know I was sued for $10 million. ...

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