Notes from a briefing room press insider…
About that Af-Pak Strategy…: Press Secretary Robert Gibbs‘ late entrance into the briefing room (ahem, 35 minutes after originally scheduled…) was welcomed by a brief audio clip from the back of the room that declared in a booming voice, “The President is powerful” — likely a prank by our dear tech troublemakers that drew all the deserved giggles from the corps and the podium. But the dialogue quickly turned to more serious matters as RG responded to the sharp uptick in Af-Pak violence and countered continued charges that POTUS is moving too slowly on the troop decision. “I certainly wouldn’t agree with Sen. McCain on that,” he said in reaction to the former POTUS rival’s criticism, adding that he thought the American people were on the side of the WH. POTUS meets with the joint chiefs Friday; while RG said yesterday that that is a signal the process is “certainly toward the end,” today he reaffirmed the “several weeks away” line (that he’s alternately been spouting with “coming weeks” for, well, the last several weeks).
How Much for that Lincoln Bedroom?: Today’s Wash Times feature on WH perks showered on DNC contributors clearly piqued the interest of other WH reporters, who hammered away at the month-old WH announcement on visitor’s log releases and asked whether it was true that money could buy a trip to the WH bowling alley, for instance. RG, who continuously used the “most transparent administration” tack to downplay the premise of the questions, argued that it was unreasonable to expect that such contributors — many who are long-time POTUS pals — to not have access to the WH, which he said has welcomed over 400,000 since January. Reports on WH visitors are set to be released later this year, with quarterly documents revealing the “who/when/how long/who met with” of each visit. In the interest of full disclosure, RG noted that “Ethan Gibbs, with the bumpers down, bowled a couple of games while eating some chicken fingers.” (No one asked Ethan’s score.)
Mum’s the Word: RG refused to get tangled in the NYT‘s explosive front-pager on Afghan President Karzai’s brother and his alleged CIA funding, referring inquiries directly to the agency. According to the Daily Beast, the Karzai bros are “fighting back” against the charges.