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Barack Obama's grocery store scanner moment

By Scott Tibbs, January 13, 2011

As Robert Gibbs is leaving the White House, President Obama said he has been working very hard "with relatively modest pay." Gibbs earns $172,000 a year, putting him "in the upper 8 percent of all American families." A modest income, President Obama?

Two decades ago, President George H.W. Bush was derided as being out of touch when he expressed amazement at a grocery store barcode scanner. Is this Obama's scanner moment?

Yes, Washington DC is an expensive place to live. It was striking how much more expensive basic things are in DC when we spent a week in the nation's capital last March. But let's not get carried away with ourselves here: Even in Washington, 172 grand is not a "modest" income.

Now, I don't have a problem with Gibbs making the salary he earned at the White House. The press secretary has a very difficult, high-stress job and he may have been making more in the private sector. But in an economic downturn where many people are struggling as we have an official unemployment rate of nearly 10% (the real unemployment rate is significantly higher) it comes off as elitist for Obama to be playing the violin about the financial sacrifices of his beleaguered press secretary.

This episode makes Barack Obama look dangerously out of touch.