Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Obama’s BlackBerry 10

Tempers ran high in the Senate today as Republicans blocked a $30 billion Democratic plan to help community banks boost lending to small businesses. Democrats are fast running out of time to show they are doing something to cut unemployment ahead of November’s elections, but this is just the latest bill to founder on objections from Republicans and some centrist Democrats, who argue extra spending should be covered by cuts elsewhere in the budget.

This time Republicans complained they were shut out of the amendment process and that a billion dollars of agriculture spending had been attached to the legislation. Mindful that voters think his administration is not doing enough to create jobs, Obama had been calling for the Senate to pass this bill, and he will likely be dismayed by this latest setback. OBAMA/

If that was the thorn in Obama’s day, the rose was probably his appearance on ABC’s ”The View”, sitting on a couch peppered with questions by five women, including Barbara Walters and Joy Behar. Referring to how his family discuss the highs and lows of their lives, he talked about the “roses” and “thorns” of his life as president, revealed he hadn’t been invited to Chelsea Clinton’s wedding and said his i-Pod included Jay-Z and Frank Sinatra but thankfully nothing by teen sensation Justin Bieber.

Finally, he said only about 10 people had his BlackBerry personal e-mail address. “I’ve got to admit it’s no fun because they think it’s going to be subject to the Presidential Records Act so nobody sends me the juicy stuff,” he ruefully added.

While we all ponder who those 10 might be (Michelle and the girls, Axelrod, Emanuel, Gibbs, Jarrett and ….) we would like to respectfully invite the president to add an eleventh. Mr. President, just send your name, position and email address to washingtonextra@thomsonreuters.com.

Gore had his Internet, McCain his BlackBerry

In the annals of inventor-lawmakers, Republican presidential candidate John McCain may rank even higher than Al Gore.
rtr21w17.jpgGore famously said in 1999 as he was preparing to launch his presidential bid that he helped create the Internet while he was a member of the Senate.
He was roundly ridiculed for the comment, which rumor and repetition quickly converted into an urban myth that Gore claimed to be the inventor of the Internet.

McCain evidently has been busy in the Senate too. Even though he doesn’t use computers or e-mail, the Arizona senator helped create the BlackBerry. So says one of his economic advisers, Douglas Holt-Eakin.
“You’re looking at the miracle that John McCain helped create,” Holtz-Eakin told reporters while brandishing a BlackBerry wireless e-mail device during a briefing in Miami.
Holtz-Eakin’s remarks came as he was defending McCain’s knowledge of the economy while stock markets reeled from the financial crisis.
Early in the campaign, McCain said his economic understanding wasn’t all that great. He’s been trying to claw back that statement ever since.
Holtz-Eakin cited McCain’s work on the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees telecommunications and the senator chaired for a time, as evidence of his economic experience. Then followed the BlackBerry proclamation.
The Obama campaign, aware of the ridicule Gore suffered over the Internet, was quick to try to tar McCain with the BlackBerry.
“If John McCain hadn’t said that ‘the fundamentals of our economy are strong’ on the day of one of our nation’s worst financial crises, the claim that he invented the BlackBerry would have been the most preposterous thing said all week,” said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton. 
Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Robert LeSieur (McCain in New Hampshire Sept. 14)