Monday, October 12, 2009
After NBC White House correspondent John Harwood ignited a firestorm Sunday over comments quoting an anonymous White House adviser characterizing gay critics of President Obama as “internet left fringe,”and urging them to “take off their pajamas,” Harwood was forced to take the unusual step of sending an email to the Huffington Post in an attempt to clarify his remarks:
“My comments quoting an Obama adviser about liberal bloggers/pajamas weren’t about the LGBT community or the marchers. They referred more broadly to those grumbling on the left about an array of issues in addition to gay rights, including the war in Afghanistan and health care and Guantanamo and whether all that added up to trouble with Obama’s liberal base.”
Nevertheless, the damage is done. The blogosphere is literally seething over Harwood’s remarks and the anger is directed squarely at President Obama.
LGBT activists — already weary with Mr. Obama’s failure to deliver on his campaign promise to repeal both “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the “Defense of Marriage Act,” seized on Harwood’s comments as proof the president has no clear plan to advance the cause of gay rights.
By mid-morning Monday, the Obama administration had swung into full damage control. In a comment The Plum Line, White House senior communications director Dan Pfeiffer basically refuted the report:
“That sentiment does not reflect White House thinking at all, we’ve held easily a dozen calls with the progressive online community because we believe the online communities can often keep the focus on how policy will affect the American people rather than just the political back-and-forth.”
This entire matter could be quickly resolved if Mr. Harmon would come forward and identify his alleged White House source. If the source turns out to be Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel — as many gay activists suspect, then President Obama may want to consider whether Mr. Emanual’s ongoing presence has become a negative distraction and counterproductive to the president’s goals.