The House Democrats’ procedural “Deem and Pass” strategy (also known as the “Slaughter Rule” and “Demon Pass”) was a hot topic at today’s White House briefing, with the AP’s Ben Feller leading off with a series of questions that Press Secretary Robert Gibbs all but ignored. That didn’t prevent CNN’s Ed Henry from pressing Gibbs later in the briefing, in a textbook example of what White House reporters should do. Although he didn’t exactly get a straight answer, sometimes the non-answers can tell you something, too.
Gibbs pretty much sticks with calling the question a “process game,” and he’s going to be right in the future. Once healthcare reform passes, a largely academic procedural move is not likely to have much traction. But right now, this is the thread that both Republican and Democratic opponents of health care reform are pulling on. Evasions, even clever ones, aren’t about to mollify them.
What Gibbs seems to be saying is that the President doesn’t care if the House uses a saute´ pan or a dutch oven, as long as there’s something on the plate by week’s end. I don’t know how well that answer would have played, but I bet he’d stop getting questions about it.
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