Beyond the Tweets: Iran and same-sex benefits topped today’s WH agenda, and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was challenged to straddle the president’s reluctance to “meddle” in Iranian affairs while speaking out for the “universal principle” of peaceful protest. Amid calls from some that the WH response has been weak (including ex-would-be-POTUS John McCain), Gibbs cited “many from both sides of the aisle” who deem it “appropriate.” He also noted that the international community has expressed concern over how the election was conducted. While Gibbs confirmed that the WH has (in addition to State) followed Twitter and YouTube reports out of Tehran, the Obama team continues to avoid confirming specific reports, as no reps are on the ground there. (Are envoys drawing straws?)
What is… a WH briefing?: The inimitable Helen Thomas interrupted her own question to inject the philosophical, near-rhetorical, “What is terrorism?” as she hit Gibbs on WH preference in the Iranian election (which, per tradition, they refuse to enumerate). In a more intriguing exchange that didn’t see a tidy conclusion, NYT’s Helene Cooper asked RG why the WH was basing reaction to the protests only on their unchanging national interests– nuclear security and anti-terrorism. Gibbs warned against conflating the issues, to which Cooper replied that the election “has nothing to do with us–that’s what I’m saying!” She argued that Gibbs and POTUS had both implied that because neither of the leading presidential candidates would be much different than the other vis-a-vis U.S. interests, the election process doesn’t much matter. Gibbs hit back on that judgment: Keep the two separate.
DOMA, DADT, POTUS, Oh My!: Gay rights advocates continue to be up in arms over what they consider a cold shoulder from the Obama team, and today’s news on conferring same-sex benefits to partners of federal employees seemed only to highlight the shaky relationship POTUS has had with the gay rights community. Gibbs maintained that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and challenging the Defense of Marriage Act are a priority for the administration, though he slipped in that the WH is “working on a large amount of things” right now.
Aaaaan-ge-la is Comin’ to Town: RG confirmed that German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be at 1600 Penn next Friday.