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

Herding Congress: On the eve of POTUS’s fourth prime-time news conference, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had no trouble keeping health care in the spotlight in his daily briefing. Reporters pointed out that tomorrow’s event would make the tenth in 10 days designed to push the WH message in the ongoing debate, and RG reiterated the August deadline while adding that POTUS wants to ensure he signs a bill by the end of the 2009 legislative session. “A lot doesn’t tend to happen
in this town without some poking and some prodding,” he said of the WH-imposed benchmarks.

Technical Difficulties: In perhaps the most newsworthy part of today’s briefing, a corrupted overhead speaker let out a good deal of distracting static, prompting more than a couple jokes from the podium. After Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton went backstage to check things out with no luck, he blamed colleague Reid Cherlin: “It’s Reid’s hair dryer.” (Seriously. Slow. Day.)

Three Flavors of Republicans: When Gibbs was asked about the political opposition in the health care debate, he classified GOPers according to three categories: 1) those working with Democrats; 2) those philosophically opposed to the legislation; and 3) those politically opposed (paging Jim DeMint…). When CBS Radio’s Mark Knoller asked whether Gibbs would recognize political motivations (for and against the legislation) on both sides of the aisle, RG didn’t bite, saying only that if support for health care helps legislators politically, “that’s a good thing.” (“You tried,” he said to Knoller, who responded, “I did.”)

Closing Time: Following on new reports that Gitmo detainees might not be moved out by the WH’s January deadline, RG responded to questions about the Obama team’s resolve to officially close the detention facility. “Closure means closure. We’re not interested in changing the name or changing the ownership,” he said, repeating that the prison has become a notorious “symbol” known around the world.