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White House ‘Car in Ditch’ Metaphor Crashes & Burns

October 27, 2010

As President Barack Obama tours the country on the campaign trail with fellow Democrats, he’s made one metaphor a staple of his usual stump speech:

I want you to think about it this way. Imagine that these folks [Republicans] drove a car into the ditch. And it was a really deep ditch. And somehow they were able to walk away from the accident, but they did nothing to get the car out of the ditch. And so, me and Barbara [Boxer] and Jerry [Brown] and Antonio [Villaraigosa], we all put on our boots and we climbed down into the ditch.

And it’s hot down there. Flies are down there — (laughter) — and we’re sweating. But we’re pushing, we’re pushing to get the car out of the ditch. And even though Barbara Boxer is small, she is pushing, too. And we’re all pushing. (Applause.) And as we’re pushing, we look up and the Republicans are all standing there at the top of the ditch. They’re all looking down. And we say, why don’t you come down and help? And they say, no, that’s all right. And then they kick some dirt down into the ditch. (Laughter.) They’re sipping on a Slurpee. They’re fanning themselves. You’re not pushing hard enough, they say. You’re not pushing the right way.

As the story goes, at least as Obama tells it, the Democrats succeed in dragging the vehicle out of the ditch and take control in driving in a “new direction.” 

In an attempt to build on this metaphor Tuesday, White House press secretary told reporters he understood people’s frustration with the Obama administration. “Look, there’s, there’s an Obama bumper sticker on the car. We get that,” he said in response to a question from CNN.

The implications of this new twist in the tale weren’t lost on Republicans who were quick to point out the gaffe.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin tweeted “classic admittance [sic: admission]….Um, that’s been our point.”

In an email sent around to reporters from the Republican National Committee, another jab at the top White House aide. “Robert Gibbs admits that the President‘s famous ’car in the ditch’ has an Obama bumper sticker on it,” read the message under a large bold title: “They said it!”

Republicans have argued it’s the Obama administration policies that are keeping the economy on a dangerous course.

One top Republican said the White House needs to stop pointing fingers at the past and fix the economy, which is now the Obama administration’s problem.

As CBS White House correspondent has noted, the metaphor department seems fresh out of new ideas.  But Gibbs predicts the president will continue to deliver this message right on through the midterm elections next Tuesday.

Closing thought: Possible new campaign message for the GOP?

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