Notes from a briefing room press insider…
2, 4, 6, 8, Who Do We Appreciate?: Despite an extraordinarily feisty briefing that included an array of reporters’ follow-ups and several giggles (Gibbles?) from the podium, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs maintained that this week was not unusually loaded with news and that instead, “It’s been an extraordinary eight months.” CBS Radio’s Mark Knoller, asking whether RG was actually waiting for a “boring day” as Gibbs said he told POTUS recently, advised that “there’s always something.” There were a lot of somethings today, and WSJ‘s Jonathan Weisman asked whether the foreign policy issues were a distraction for the domestic ones. Reciting a common refrain, Gibbs chastised the press for pushing alternate sides and advised, “Maybe you guys should huddle and come up with one premise.” Later, when reporters pushed on a remark about the House’s climate change bill alone was proof that the “U.S. is on record” on the issue, RG said: “Again, you guys get together–” No such team huddles were scheduled.
Sweet 2016 Update: With FLOTUS already landed in Copenhagen, RG reports that POTUS will continue to make phone calls and have meetings to back “an extremely strong bid” for his hometown before and during Friday’s presidential visit to the IOC meeting. (In more troubling news out of Chicago, RG commented on the beating of teen honor student Derrion Albert by calling the “chilling” video “among the most shocking that you could ever see.” He noted that POTUS discussed youth violence and this incident as recently as this morning in the Oval.)
Quotable: RG, on Roll Call‘s report that the WH is secretly drafting health care legislation: “…neither was it, in my opinion, a very good story.” He said the WH has worked on “legislative language” for some time in conjunction with Capitol Hill. When asked the difference, he didn’t skip a beat: “Probably about 1200 pages.”
:In the Real Situation Room: Ahead of POTUS’s three-hour Afghanistan meeting with top advisors this afternoon, Gibbs continued to hit back at criticisms that the WH is delaying a troop announcement, and clarified that the current McChrystal assessment under review (delivered before POTUS’s trip to Martha’s Vineyard) does not include troop figures. Asked whether the political climate was affecting today’s meeting, RG countered: “The political climate seems to be affecting what people say on cable television.” In response to what has become a popular briefing room angle the past few days, RG spoke briefly about the threat of the Taliban (often lost amid so much talk of ugly brother al Qaeda) and said there was “no doubt” that Taliban control of a large area would create a safe haven for those willing to do damage.
P5+1 + Iran = As Awkward as a Middle School Dance?: In another international theater, Iran is set to face the P5+1 tomorrow in talks on its nuclear program, even though Iran has said it is unwilling to discuss its nuclear program tomorrow. Hmm. RG maintained that tomorrow’s meeting is “not talk for talk’s sake” and that whether it is solely a process meeting (as some suspect) will be “somewhat dependent on what we hear tomorrow from the Iranians.”