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

Too Cool for School: Bracing ourselves for perhaps the most highly anticipated “beer summit” this town has ever seen, reporters continued to hammer away at press secretary Robert Gibbs on the logistics for this evening’s Gates-Crowley-Obama meet. Multiple requests for a fuller readout or soundbite opportunity were rebuffed. “We’re his students, Robert,” ABC’s Jake Tapper joked, invoking (for the first of many times) the “teachable moment” brand that POTUS introduced. Gibbs noted that press would have an opportunity to take it up with POTUS himself during this afternoon’s Oval meeting with Philippines President Arroyo. “A teachable moment — to learn the schedule,” he quipped. “Is he the teacher?” TWT‘s Jon Ward asked. “All of us are, perhaps, in a moment we hope can teach all in this country that dialogue and communication will always improve a situation,” Gibbs responded. (Always? Except “stupidly,” right?)

The Sun’ll Come Out…: When NYT‘s Helene Cooper asked Gibbs what he hoped Team Obama will have accomplished when he wakes up tomorrow, he deadpanned: “No more questions about what kind of beer they’re going to drink.” (For those keeping “tabs,” RG says the group will have the options rumored to be the preferences of each — Bud Light, Blue Moon, Red Stripe.) Moving to the more serious version of his answer, Gibbs predicted “a far different picture than what we’ve seen to date” surrounding the incident. When CBS’s Chip Reid pointed out that POTUS could get so much more out of the “teachable moment” by making remarks (to say nothing of the prospect of Gates/Crowley media outreach), RG laughed off the suggestion using one of his favorite words: “I appreciate….”

Poll Me This: With the natural presidential polling decline kicking in for Obama just after his six-month anniversary, reporters asked about CBS-NYT and NBC-WSJ numbers that reflect poorly on the WH’s health care publicity efforts. Gibbs noted that the WH doesn’t do its own polls, but “I think the DNC polls,” before writing off the numbers with an age-old WH line: “The president isn’t fixated on the ups and downs of polling.” When RG proceeded to spit back exact numbers of one poll to NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, CBS’s Reid questioned whether they really didn’t pay attention to the polls. “I watch NBC for God’s sakes, Chip,” Gibbs said. “Why?” Reid asked.


Together, Forever: In a clever pairing of the Obama team’s two priority issues, Gibbs said of the economy: “We’ve stopped the bleeding but we still have a very sick patient.” (Which begs the question: Does this patient have health insurance?)

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