Tales from the Trail

Testing their partnership, Obama and Australia’s Gillard disagree on…vegemite

They may be the strongest of allies, but U.S. President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard disagree on at least one thing: the culinary strengths and weaknesses of Vegemite.

The president, it turns out, is not a fan.obama_aussie

“It’s horrible,” Obama told a class of high school students on Monday after one asked the visiting Australian leader what the substance really was.

Gillard acknowledged the conflict.

“This is also a little bit of a division between the President and I.  I love Vegemite,” she told the student.

“It’s actually a byproduct of making beer, apparently.  That’s how the story goes.  It’s a yeast paste.  I’m making this sound really good, aren’t I?”

Obama, trying to get the kids on his side, made clear he wasn’t convinced.

“So it’s like a quasi-vegetable-byproduct paste that you smear on your toast for breakfast.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?” he said to laughter.

Clinton dispels bikini wrestling myths in Australia


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would like the world to know: the United States is not about wearing bikinis and wrestling all day.

Clinton took her personal diplomacy to Australia’s airwaves,  braving a popular radio comedy team who grilled her on potato chips, reality tv and the diplomacy of barbecues.

Clinton’s appearance on the Hamish and Andy show was part of her effort to get in front of as many foreign audiences as possible, and the official transcript released by the State Department makes for some bizarre reading.

Is Louisiana trip Obama’s ticket Down Under?


President Barack Obama is due to take off this month for a trip to Australia and Indonesia that he has already rescheduled once because of pressing matters here in the United States. In March, the imminent passage of healthcare reform prompted him to put off the journey until June.

Now the talk in Washington is that the BP oil spill soiling the Gulf of Mexico could force him to put off the trip again — or even cancel it for good. 

Oil has been gushing into the Gulf since April 20, when the Transocean Ltd drilling rig Deepwater Horizon licensed to BP exploded, killing 11 workers.  The oil has devastated the ecology and economies of Gulf Coast states and put intense pressure on Obama to not just do something to stop it — a task that so far has proved impossible for BP — but to prove to Americans that he cares, and cares deeply,  about the crisis.