OMG! POTUS?!: A surprised press corps leapt to its feet as Obama dropped in on this afternoon’s briefing, “I’m sorry that Gibbs is screwing this up,” he joked. “There’s a job to do, you’ve got to do it yourself.” Press Secretary Robert Gibbs slid to the side for his boss, saying, “It’s way cooler than it seems” in response to Cool Guy-in-Chief’s remark that the briefing room was “kind of cool.” An already higher-than-average number of photogs grew as journalists from every corner documented the spontaneous visit. Upon conclusion of his remarks (contextualized below), Obama ignored shouted questions: “So with that, I would like you to give Robert a tough time again,” he said as he slipped back into the depths of the West Wing.
The SCOTUS Scoop: In fact, Obama had come by to announce that he had just received official word of Supreme Court Justice David Souter’s retirement, repeating a few points about what he’d be looking for in a nominee — the biggest likely being that he prefers someone with a “diversity of experience” — not necessarily a lifelong judge. Gibbs had been reluctant to answer questions on the hypothetical announcement, joking that he had “asked at the mess” and no one at the White House had heard from Souter on his decision to leave the bench (either formally or informally). “I guess he wasn’t in the mess today,” CBS’s Mark Knoller quipped upon Obama’s exit.
Booyakasha!: Still on the topic of SCOTUS nominees, Gibbs fielded a question from CBS’s Chip Reid, who cited an old Obama quotation that listed groups of people that an ideal candidate could relate to, among them the “journalist who shakes things up.” Reid noted that he liked that character, and Gibbs shot back: “That mythical person has approval in this room.” (Since we’re approaching its anniversary, this exchange calls to mind Stephen Colbert’s WHCD speech in which he labeled the White House intrepid reporter as “fiction.”)
Continued after the jump…
R2D2’s Evil Twin: Gibbs said WHO is likely to raise the alert level for H1N1 (artist formerly known as “swine flu”) again in the next few days, and reiterated the president’s remarks at the bottom of this morning’s Cabinet meeting that it’s important for the government to prepare for mutated forms of the virus that could rear their ugly heads later this year.