Prof. Rice Comes to Washington: To round out his week of guests, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice speak to the class today. She outlined the recently passed resolution on sanctions for North Korea, citing five main points in the document: 1) complete embargo on arms; 2) new financial sanctions; 3) inspection of suspected weapons shipments at sea; 4) added entities for an “assets freeze”; and 5) a stepped-up monitoring process. Rice called the unanimous resolution “unprecedented,” “innovative,” and “very robust”
with “teeth that will bite.” Asked why she hadn’t voted in person, Gibbs interrupted to point out that she came to be with reporters.
(She declined to answer whether we were worth it.)
(No?) Funny Business: Even amid the briefing’s grave issues (Iran, Gitmo, and North Korea, for three), a considerable amount of giggles made it a lively Friday in the West Wing presser. While release of four Uighurs from Gitmo to Bermuda has the island’s colonial power fuming — ABC’s Jake Tapper noted the government has used “pissed” — Gibbs attempted to deflect the anger by observing Britain’s dissatisfaction not with Obama but with Bermuda. “I don’t want to parse the word ‘pissed,’” he said. “Maybe they were pissed at both of them,” CBS’s Bill Plante shrewdly noted.
Indoor Recess: As children’s voices (Sasha? Malia?) rang out from the direction of the First Playground not far from the briefing room walls, reporters were enjoying an unusually raucous briefing indoors.
On a seemingly unanswerable question of North Korean succession, CNN’s Dan Lothian noted that Kim Jong-Il’s youngest son has allegedly earned the title “Brilliant Comrade.” When Gibbs joked that’s his nickname for Tapper, JT fired back: “That’s almost as good as ‘special master,’” riffing on the Obama team’s compensation czar title.
Yoga and Tots: The inimitable Raghubir Goyal of the India Globe took his rare question opportunity to ask about POTUS’s yoga policy. This, of course, led to a number of cracks, including RG’s insistence that Plante put his leg behind his head before he be allowed to ask his follow-up on POTUS’s Monday speech to the AMA. (Plante did not.) Following on the healthcare theme, CBS Radio’s Mark Knoller said he “took offense at” the president’s singling out tater tots in yesterday’s town hall as an unhealthy dish for youngsters. Gibbs said that for his part, he was offended he hadn’t been briefed on either yoga or tater tots before meeting the press today. “I’ll follow up with him on the tater tots,” he pledged.
(For the record: Gibbs is still punting on most of the healthcare details, advocating a more “wait and see” attitude as Congress draws up legislation, but he promised Saturday’s radio address will introduce a new number into the discussion.)
Smokin’: To set the record straight on POTUS’s questionable smoking habits, reporters pressed on whether he still struggles with breaking the habit (Gibbs said it’s a “lifelong struggle”), whether he supports a ban on cigarettes (Gibbs doesn’t think so), and whether he still chews Nicorette gum (Gibbs “assumes” so and saw POTUS chewing gum this morning).