Gibbs: Obama only voted against raising the debt ceiling in 2006 because he knew his vote wouldn't matter

The funniest line? Gibbsy insisting that The One voted no at the time to send the message that we need to “get serious about fiscal discipline.” Barack Obama and fiscal discipline: Perfect together. Why, he’s like the very first tea partier, isn’t he?

Give Gibbs credit for honesty on this one, though. The One took plenty of votes during his brief layover in the Senate that were aimed squarely at polishing his record for a presidential run down the road. The one on the debt ceiling was aimed at centrists; the votes against Roberts and Alito were aimed at his base. And sometimes, when he couldn’t decide whom to pander to, he just voted present as he’s wont to do.

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure,” [Obama] said on March 16, 2006. “Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership . Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”

The debt limit was raised by a vote of 52-48.

Asked about that quote – and vote — today, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that it was important that “based on the outcome of that vote…the full faith and credit was not in doubt.”

Then-Sen. Obama used the vote “to make a point about needing to get serious about fiscal discipline….His vote was not necessarily needed on that.”

I take it this means that when the House narrowly votes to raise the debt ceiling in a few weeks’ time, the media will let Republicans who vote no off the hook on grounds that their votes weren’t needed either. If all Democrats vote yes, Boehner needs only 25 Republicans to vote with them to form a majority. He himself has hinted at making “adult” decisions about the debt ceiling in recent interviews, which I take as a sign that the GOP leadership will grudgingly go along with raising it. And if they’re on board, surely enough backbenchers will fall in line to get to 25. That won’t stop the great media freakout over meaningless tea party opposition when the floor vote comes, though, so it’ll be fun to revisit this exchange with Gibbs when it happens.

Speaking of Gibbs, he made it official today: His days as press secretary are numbered. When asked by the Times why he’s leaving, Obama responded that Gibbsy — who earns $172,500 a year — has been making do with “relatively modest pay” compared to what he could be earning as a private consultant. The horrifying reality: He’s right.

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