Two of Barack Obama’s top aides took to the airwaves last night to spin the Hilary Rosen episode in Obama’s favor. David Axelrod and David Plouffe both said the controversy illustrates Obama’s willingness to stand up to his friends and contrasted his response to Rosen’s comments with Mitt Romney’s response to Rush Limbaugh’s recent inflammatory remarks about Sandra Fluke.

Doing damage control, White House adviser David Plouffe and Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod made separate appearances Thursday night to contrast Obama’s public response to Rosen to Romney’s response to controversial comments made by conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

“I think we have an obligation in politics and public life, when someone, even friends, say things that are inappropriate, to say so. In fact, in certain ways, when your friends say it, there is more of an obligation to do so,” Axelrod said on CNN. …

In making his argument, Plouffe specifically pointed to last month’s controversy over Limbaugh, who called a Georgetown University law student a “slut” on air due to her testimony on the White House’s contraception mandate.

“It’s not the language I would have used,” Romney said of Limbaugh’s comment.

In contrast, the Obama administration was quick to “strongly condemn” what Rosen said, according to Plouffe.

“I’ve been disappointed on the other side of the aisle just recently when Gov. Romney and others were not willing to stand up and denounce speech that most people would call inappropriate,” Axelrod said. “I thought we had an obligation to speak and speak very, very quickly to make clear that this didn’t reflect our point of view and that we thought Hilary should apologize.”

Plouffe also pointed out that the country should be even more than usually willing to move on from this controversy because we’ve reached bipartisan agreement that stay-at-home motherhood has an intrinsic value Rosen’s comments ignored. (That’s nice!)

Does issuing a curt, condemnatory phrase really constitute standing up to friends, though? I appreciate that the president’s campaign sought to distance itself from Rosen, no matter what the political motivations for doing so. But I’d appreciate it even more if he’d stand up to his real friends:

  • Why hasn’t he stood up to Eric Holder on Fast and Furious?
  • Why didn’t he stand up to Tim Geithner on his tax evasion? Jeffrey Immelt?
  • Why didn’t he stand up to Democratic donors at Solyndra?
  • Why didn’t he stand up to environmentalists on Keystone XL?

These are just the first four examples off the top of my head. Please feel free to add more to the list.

Bottom line: I don’t really care whether my president stands up to commentators on the right or left. Is it nice? Sure. Is it necessary? No. I do, however, care deeply whether he sells the average American out again and again and again by failing to stand up to power players inside his own administration.