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

“It’s on the (White) House”: As Gates-gate continues to make top headlines, press secretary Robert Gibbs fielded questions on the logistics for the three-man beer meeting Thursday evening (1800 EST). RG consistently characterized the event as a “casual” affair and with “no formal agenda, other than cold beer.” But when reporters referred to it as the “beer-fest” or “beer picnic,” Gibbs reined in the labeling: “I know I’m usually the one who makes the jokes around here,” he said, but the photo opportunity (pool coverage) would be an important moment. Asked about WH follow-up to generate further
discussion of the bigger issue, Gibbs noted that he was sure the discussion would continue, government shouldn’t be the solution to everything, and the WH never suggested this meeting would solve everything. So no follow-up? “I guess it’s just a disappointing beer-fest,” he cracked.

And On To the Next Round…: With a score of 13-6, SCOTUS nominee Sonia Sotomayor got the nod from the Senate Judiciary Committee today. Gibbs called it a “strong vote” and, to those Republicans who are still not convinced she could bring an unbiased perspective, said, “I don’t know how more clearly she could say it … or her record could demonstrate her fealty to the law.”

Healthy Choice?: Speaking of government (un-)involvement, WH participation in the ongoing health care debate was again at the forefront, with Gibbs conceding that “the president will be involved in working through whatever differences the House and Senate have.” He lamented that it was “as obvious as the sun coming up in the east” that people were spreading misinformation to slow progress on reform. In a specific attempt to tamp down rumors, one such detail debated was whether a newly created IMAC (independent medical advisory committee) would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and private medical decisions — an issue raised at today’s AARP town hall. Gibbs said he wasn’t “under the impression” that it would, but reporters urged him to follow up.