Who’s in the tank at Obama’s White House luau?

June 25, 2009

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs barely got a foot through the door of the White House briefing room Thursday before being hit by the full force of a press corps demanding information on the big news of the day.
Not Iran or healthcare, of course, or even the energy bill that President Barack Obama had discussed earlier in the White House Rose Garden.
Nope, the big news Thursday OBAMA/was who on the White House staff would take a turn in the dunk tank at the Hawaiian luau being thrown by Obama for members of Congress and their families on the White House south lawn. 
“I went out there to see it. It’s out there,” Gibbs said in response to questions about the tank — one of those amusement park devices where someone sits suspended over a huge tub of water while others hurl balls at a trigger in an effort to dunk him.
“Rahm is going to be in it. Phil Schiliro’s going to be in it,” Gibbs said, referring to Rahm Emanuel, the president’s chief of staff, and Schiliro, the president’s assistant for legislative affairs.
“Robert Gibbs is going to be in it,” he added, referring to himself.
News that Emanuel and Schiliro would be targets in the dunk tank set off speculation on Capitol Hill that Obama was deviously trying to round up more support for an expected vote in the House Friday on the energy bill.
News that Gibbs had volunteered set off a round of journalistic pleading for news coverage, or perhaps an opportunity to try it out on White House spokesman.
Offers of fundraising for charity were made — $5 or $10 per reporter in exchange for a throw and a video of the results.
“I’m happy to. You guys collect the pot of money, you guys pick your best arm, and we can — you can have a shot at it. You can throw it (at) me and I’ll get you the video,” Gibbs said. 
He did express one reservation. 
“My only concern at this point is that the water gets a little warmer maybe before we start throwing.”
And so at the appointed hour a little past 5 p.m., the press corps filed out for the dunking shortly before the start of the luau, cheered on by Obama, who poked his head out a West Wing door and shouted: “Go get him! Go get him! You can do it!”
Gibbs went into the water twice in five minutes — once at the hands of AP’s Ben Feller and a second time on the pitching of CBS’s Bill Plante, who’s been covering the White House for nearly 30 years.
Gibbs was still drying off as the luau got underway.
“Bill Plante,” he said. “Who’d have thought?” 
For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Gibbs before, and after, being dunked)


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Many, many people are unable to buy groceries, medicine, without jobs, losing their homes and the white house is having yet another party – for the do nothing congress no less. When is enough parties and dates for heavens sake. This president just keeps on spending and living large. Too many people suffering for these kind of activities to be going on.

Posted by Kay | Report as abusive

The man work his butt off each day trying to undo the damage the previous administrations have done.
He deserves some fun and time off, He has a family just like everyone else.
Any family would have parties, dinning out,and entertainments once awhile. Just because he is a “President” doesn’t mean he cannot live a normal life.
By the way, he can spends and living large, after all he earned over $ 2 millions last years (his own money) I am sure he can afford it.

Posted by Leah | Report as abusive

Stop sniping at Obama. He may now be the world’s most powerful man, but he also now has the world’s worst job. If he needs to let of steam (with his own money) he hs every right to do so. As does anyone else.

Posted by rik | Report as abusive

Hawaiian Luau is great as long as Obama paid for it with his own money and it wasn’t funded once again by taxpayers who are struggling to get by. Anyone know who footed the bill? This is nothing more than a political move to get Congress deeper into his pockets.

Posted by sheryl | Report as abusive

Wonder if this cost the taxpayer $250,000 like his night out on the town did with Michelle. You and I also footed the bill for that!!!!! How many mouths would $250,000 feed for those who are having difficulty putting food on the table for their families!

Posted by sheryl | Report as abusive

Why the complaints about who paid for this? It’s an annual event, so it’s not like it’s the first time there was a congressional picnic. Just so happens this one was the first “Hawaiian luau”.

Posted by Nani | Report as abusive

“The big news of the day”–who’s manning the dunk tank? Nice to see the White House press corps has its priorities straight.

Posted by William Tate | Report as abusive

I’m not a liberal but I thought that looked like fun. One of the few things I have liked about the WH.

Posted by jan rich | Report as abusive

FDR and Eleanor had a different approach to their life style at Hyde Park. Eleanor instructed the kitchen personnel to keep food prepared sometimes twenty four hours a day to feed the hungry coming to their estate looking for food or work.

The history of Eleanor being Franklin’s eyes and ears around the country is well documented. Both of them lived their lives in service to this country. Regardless of how one feels about their politics and views, they deserve great respect as no other presidential family since gave so much of themselves to the country.

Michelle Obama has the daunting of raising two children in the seat of the most powerful Nation on the planet. I think it would be far healthier for the President’s children to be raised out of the spotlight so they can lead as normal a childhood as possible. It would probably be healthier for the American public. But then again that is up to the media, not the Presidential family.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

I do not believe that this event, despite it’s likely high cost, could have impacted the economy in any noticeable way. In the grander scheme of things, this is likely not the worst abuse of public funds out there, either, if you choose to call this an abuse. This is an annual event, and is business as usual for the White House. It is when it is no longer business as usual that we need worry, for that will foreshadow real economic peril.

Posted by Patrick Persinger | Report as abusive

Isn’t that the point – it is business as usual – when we are in unusual times. We have to cut back on our parties – why don’t they? Because they live in a different world than we do – they don’t get it.

Posted by Bridget | Report as abusive

Someone suggested people get off Obamas back. When in a Democracy we are to challenge those that work for the American people to do the best for us.
Right now I see this left leaning President calling for the return to power of a leftist in Honduras that wanted to change the Constitution so that he might have power forever. This President has not openly stated this is what he wants for himself but it would appear so. He is supporting those goals by wanting to return Zelaya to power.
We hold these truths to be self evident. Freedom of speech and thought is what allows us to improve and not being held back by those that surrendered to an ideology.

Posted by NORMAN | Report as abusive

Yawn. I’m glad to see you’re a champion of free speech rights, Norman. I’ll have to go back over the last 8 years worth of articles here and comb the comments to see how emphatic you were about the last administration preserving our constitutional rights.

It’s only a sin when the other guys are doing it, isn’t it?

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive

Hawaiian Nachos are huge favorite at Southern Californa Luau’s. An Ocean Beach resident, came up with a delicious island twist on an old favorite. The key is finding a good “loader”. That is the name used to describe a tortilla chip that can stand up under the weight of huge chunks of kālua pork, mango pineapple salsa, topped with a creamy white sauce of jalapenos, cheese, and sour cream. The perfect “loader” for “Aloha Nachos” is a Whale Tail shaped Tortilla Chips created by a local family. Their hearty tortilla chips are certified organic, kosher, naturally gluten free, and the shape, a whale’s tail, makes them a perfect “loader”. The flavor of the chips comes from the use of Hawaiian Red Alaea infused into sun dried gourmet Hawaiian Sea Salt.

Posted by salty56 | Report as abusive