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Is Triangulation Really a Dirty Word in the White House?

Triangulation, a term coined during the Clinton administration, apparently is not necessarily something the Obama White House is comfortable with in describing its outlook in working with more Republicans on Capitol Hill.

A New York Times article Friday went as far to say that President Obama had actually "banned" the word because it wasn't an accurate depiction of his approach. A White House aide tells Fox News' Mike Emanuel that the word isn't exactly forbidden, "No words are banned at the White House, but the idea of us pitting groups against each other to advance our objectives just isn't how we operate."

The word stemmed from President Bill Clinton's strategy in dealing with the Republican revolution. The theory goes something like this: pushing the steep views on the left and the right, Clinton could strategically place himself just so, and would hover somewhere in the middle and therefore rise above the extremes, thus forming a triangle. The term was credited to former Clinton adviser Dick Morris, who is also a Fox News contributor.

A few weeks ago at a White House briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded to a question from Fox News' Wendell Goler about the tax rate compromise with the GOP, and the phrase came up:

"GOLER: Are we looking at the calendar here or are we looking at a new President Obama? Is this a move toward the center?

MR. GIBBS: Do you want me to say triangulate? (Laughter.)

Q If you feel you'd like.

MR. GIBBS: No, I don't --

Q Are we going to see the same kind of compromise in 2011?

MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I'll say this. We have -- if you look at what -- the President took, as he talked to you all about -- we took a pretty bad press day in Seoul, Korea, to walk away from an agreement that we believed wasn't as good as we could get. And we got something that ended up being better for our country and for our country's workers, and because of that, put together a coalition that I think stands a better chance of getting through Congress, because Dave Camp and Sandy Levin and Ford and the United Auto Workers are supportive of that newer deal. I think that's a coalition that can get a trade agreement through Congress.

I think START is going to pass by the end of this year with a pretty big bipartisan vote. And I think in the end this will pass with a bipartisan vote as well. And I think that is what the American people asked for in this election, and I hope it is a sign of things to come."