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

Put Up Your Toys: With no urgent mid-afternoon breaking news, six blackberries and three laptops were simultaneously taking fierce button-poundings as White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs worked the podium today. Tweeting? Minesweeper? Or just diligent reporters?

Do I Have to Separate You Two?: Gibbs qualified some of his early remarks in the briefing with “Don’t take my word for it. You rarely do anyway,” which caused several reporters to snicker. CBS Radio’s quick-witted Mark Knoller shot back with “We don’t have to sit here and take that!” And Gibbs played along by stepping away from the podium toward the door, before deciding not to tempt what surely would have caused a press-style mutiny.

Obama on Do Not Call List?: NBC’s Chuck Todd, once of Hotline fame, attempted some West Wing polling today when he asked whether the president approved or disapproved of Congress. “I don’t know if he was called in the Gallup poll,” Gibbs said, referencing this morning’s release of numbers showing Capitol Hill slightly less loathed than a few months ago, and the least loathed since its February 2005 numbers.

One Way to Get Access: Loud creaks were a little distracting for this reporter today, as nearby doors were whining under the weight of a few leaners in the still-overflow briefing crowd. These doors, opposite the briefing room’s entrance from the West Wing driveway, open to the Rose Garden walkway, a cherished path that is featured in photo-ops of presidential strolls. Let’s just hope that if the doors break, the stimulus will cover it…

Analogy ‘Gotcha!’: Gibbs finally conceded defeat in an analogy showdown, today with CNN’s Ed Henry, who asked why the president wasn’t putting up a fight on the spending bill and instead swallowing it as “last year’s business” while he was overturning other policies he’s inherited — Iraq, for instance. “I’m having trouble connecting the dots,” Gibbs said, before conceding, “I don’t understand your analogy.” (For those keeping score on non-figurative language matters, Gibbs clarified the president’s justification for signing the earmark-laden spending bill several questions later when he said the administration was trying to avoid government shutdown in the event that no spending bill earned his signature.)

Because I Told You So: One recurring briefing room challenge on the omnibus spending bill has been whether, and why/why not, the president will conduct a public bill-signing this time around. Today’s response to “Why not?”: “No reason except that some bills are signed in public and some aren’t.”