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One Beer Won't Change "The Force Of Human History"

Today's White House press briefing was dominated by questions about the impending "beer summit" between President Obama, Cambridge Police Sergeant Crowley and Harvard University Professor Skip Gates. One bone of contention that fits in the category of media process were repeated quibbles with the accessibility of the gathering to the press. Right now, it's only open to the small pool and not the entire press corps, and even that group will be present for a few moments, with no planned comments.

"If they want to go to the stakeout they're certainly welcome to," Gibbs said, meaning Crowley and Gates are free to speak to reporters after if they want.

Beyond that, the phrase "teachable moment" was used seemingly dozens of times by reporters and Gibbs trying to understand what the encounter will produce.

"I don't think the president has outsized expectations that one cold beer at one table here is going to change massively the force of human history by any sense of the imagination," Gibbs said. "He and the two individuals ... can hopefully provide a far different picture than what we've seen to date of this situation."

He said that only a week ago, it would have been hard to imagine Gates and Crowley sitting down together this way. This sort of meeting is representative, Gibbs said, of Obama's larger goal when it comes to changing the level of dialogue.

"I think all of us are participants in a moment we hope can teach all in this country that dialogue and communication can always improve a situation," he said. Obama doesn't see himself as the "teacher" in this situation.

UPDATED: President Obama weighed in during a quick Q-and-A during his meeting with the president of the Philippines. Excerpt from the pool report after the jump.

Obama says this is not a "beer summit" - "It's a clever term, but this is not a summit, guys." He said he is "fascinated with the fascination about this evening." Instead, it's three folks "having a drink at the end of the day," and giving themselves a chance to "listen to each other." The goal is to lower the temperature on an event that has become "so hyped and so symbolic." Try to reduce the "anger and hyperbole," and promote "self-reflection."