Press Secretary Robert Gibbs may be best known these days for deflecting harsh questions in the briefing room, but his advisory role in the administration goes much deeper than that, writes Michael Scherer in Time. “There isn't a single decision that the president has formed in the course of his campaign or the presidency that Robert didn't weigh in on,” said Valerie Jarrett. And when Gibbs talks, to staff or press, they know they’re hearing from Obama.
Take, for example, a staff meeting after the Tom Daschle gaffe. “When the president said, ‘I screwed up’ last night, that officially ended our experiment with sipping from the waters of the Potomac,” Gibbs told his team. Meaning: no more bipartisan schmoozing. Shortly thereafter, Obama stepped up GOP criticism, took to the road, and got his stimulus bill. Not that Gibbs isn’t warming to his role as go-between between parties. “He's always been good with the stick,” said David Axelrod. “He has also learned over time to use the carrot.”