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

Peter Peter Budget Leader: Briefing Room Guest du Jour was OMB Director (and self-proclaimed “nerd”) Peter Orszag, who followed on POTUS’s PAYGO speech today by hailing the measure as a “commonsense principle that you shouldn’t dig the hole deeper” on the deficit, which is, less than coincidentally, exactly what a new Gallup poll says is the Obama team’s weakness. Orszag prematurely stepped away from the podium after a few words, then joked, “That was easy!” After a good amount of drilling from the press corps, a somewhat taken-aback OMB head turned to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: “No wonder you have so much fun every day!” “This is kind of fun,” he would say later. When Gibbs called “last question,” Orszag lamented: “We’re having so much fun!” “Same time tomorrow?” CBS Radio’s Mark Knoller teased.

This is Where the Real “Game” Is!: ABC’s Jake Tapper and Fox News’ Major Garrett tag-teamed to press Gibbs on whether the Gitmo detainee trial in New York could result in the suspect’s release, if he is found innocent. Gibbs, following the age-old press secretary’s handbook, staunchly refused to engage in hypotheticals” and cast the question as a “game.” “It’s not a game, Robert,” Tapper argued. The court taking on the case, it was noted, has a 90-percent success rate of conviction for terrorist suspects.

Love Not in the Air: Another contentious exchange featured the ubiquitous Helen Thomas, who challenged Gibbs to articulate the difference between the Obama and Bush policies in Iraq and Afghanistan. She interrupted his explanation of troop allocations with an accusation of braggery. While Gibbs returned to the
administration’s message, his discomfort showed in a few spates of nervous laughter at the tempo of the “Dean”‘s interruptions. Continuing to spurn a serious tone his predecessor often used with Thomas (just one example), Gibbs attempted to close the deal by sarcastically inviting her to the Situation Room. “Can we come, too?” Knoller asked. “She can pool it for you,” Gibbs said.

Summer Reading: With SCOTUS nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s hearing date now set for July 13, Republicans are arguing that leaves little time to review her extensive record of judicial cases, contesting that 76 cases/day would have to be read to complete her body of work. Gibbs countered that the timeline was fair, especially in consideration of her previous two confirmations by the Senate. To the books, kids…