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FishPoolDC: Our Insider’s Notes from Today’s Press Briefing

SCOTUS Idol: Supreme Court Justice David Souter’s retirement announcement still hangs over the news cycle as anticipation of his replacement pick has heated up. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, fending off speculation that POTUS will prioritize race and gender, outlined a veritably bi-partisan list of traits for the ideal candidate, “whether it’s a he or she”: precedent, tradition, rule of law, common sense, and an understanding of how decisions affect everyday lives were among the prerequisites. Gibbs said he bets the American people are looking for the same thing. No word yet on when the text messaging lines open up for voting.

Hug Me, I’m a Journalist: In another case of industry self-deprecation, CNN’s Ed Henry asked Gibbs for a reaction to the potential closing of the Boston Globe. Gibbs called assistance for newspapers “a bit of a tricky area to get into” but said there was a “certain concern” and a “certain sadness” in losing more print operations. “I don’t know what, in all honesty, government can do about it,” he added.

Apply Within: On the up side, Gibbs later jokingly implied (as he has before) that reporters were free to apply for SCOTUS openings. “Ed, remember, just e-mail me your opinions,” he said to Bloomberg’s Ed Chen. (Other Fourth Estate nominees? NBC’s Savannah Guthrie and CBS’ Chip Reid, called out last week by the WH’s Bill Burton and Jen Psaki in a lighthearted exchange on candidate qualifications.)

Yeah, What He Said…: Gibbs caught a lot of heat for stubbornly refusing to elaborate on the president’s remarks on interrogation prosecution a couple of weeks ago, and today he used an almost identical line to decline adding news to Obama’s remarks on securing nuclear material in Pakistan. NPR’s Mara Liasson wondered aloud whether the president was implying that he didn’t have complete confidence the nukes were currently secure, and Gibbs maintained: “I would read what he said — I think it’s rather clear.” As a heads up: Pakistan President Zardari and Afghanistan President Karzai visit 1600 Penn this week.


He’s The Taxman: “I don’t think change is ever easy,” Gibbs said of the administration’s announcement to close overseas tax havens. The move is being framed as a beginning to further tax reform. (Maybe because of the many Cabinet-related tax incidents, there really was nothing funny about tax reform today.)

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