Tales from the Trail
One decent laugh line in President Barack Obama’s address to Congress had to do with Vice President Joe Biden and his new assignment in the financial crisis. Obama gave Biden the task of overseeing the recovery process. The Capitol Hill audience broke up when the president announced Biden’s new task:
WASHINGTON — New Hampshire Governor John Lynch appears to have cleared the way, at least politically, for Democratic President Barack Obama to name Republican Senator Judd Gregg as U.S. commerce secretary.
Lynch, a Democrat, indicated in a brief statement on Monday that he would yield to Gregg’s demands and appoint a Republican to replace him in the Senate if Obama, as anticipated, picks the 61-year-old New Hampshire senator as head of the U.S. Commerce Department.
A Senate Democratic aide wrote in an e-mail to Reuters that if Obama picks Gregg, Lynch will indeed replace him with another Republican in order not to upset the balance of power in the Democratic-led Senate.
If Gregg was replaced by a Democrat and Minnesota’s Al Franken survived a court challenge of his apparent victory, Democrats would have 60 seats in the 100-member Senate, enough to ram through Republican procedural roadblocks.
Gregg did not want to do that to his fellow Republicans.
“I have had conversations with Senator Gregg, the White House and U.S. Senate leadership,” Lynch said in the statement issued by his office.
“Senator Gregg has said he would not resign his seat in the U.S. Senate if it changed the balance in the Senate. Based on my discussions, it is clear the White House and Senate leadership understand this as well.”
Without specifically saying he would replace Gregg with a Republican, Lynch said: “It is important that President Obama be able to select the advisors he feels are necessary to help him address the challenges facing our nation.
“If President Obama does nominate Senator Gregg to serve as Commerce Secretary, I will name a replacement who will put the people of New Hampshire first and represent New Hampshire effectively in the U.S. Senate.”
WASHINGTON – U.S. President-elect Barack Obama says his family’s decision about a family dog has been more difficult than choosing a new Commerce secretary, but he, his wife and daughters are getting closer to a decision.
“We’re closing in on it,” Obama said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”. He said his daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, had decided they wanted a medium-sized dog and were looking closely at a labradoodle or a Portuguese water hound.
Obama also said the girls wanted a shelter dog.
The president-elect promised his daughters during the campaign that whether he won or lost the election, he would grant their wish for a dog.
Their choices of dog breeds are limited because they need to pick one that is hypoallergenic because of Malia’s allergies.
“This has been tougher than finding a Commerce secretary,” Obama said. His initial pick for that post, Bill Richardson, withdrew from consideration saying a legal inquiry in his home state would have complicated his Senate confirmation for the job.
The Obamas, who are staying at the posh Hay-Adams hotel across from the White House and will move into the executive mansion in just over a week, are also looking at local Washington churches.
The Obamas used to attend the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, but left after a controversy developed over controversial comments by Trinity’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
“One of the things that Michelle and I will be doing is probably visiting some churches and seeing what’s comfortable,” Obama said.
“It is tougher as president,” adding that visiting churches can be difficult because of security involved when he goes anywhere within Washington.
“You don’t want to subject your fellow church members, the rest of the congregation, to being magged (walking through metal detectors) every time you go to church. And so, we’re going to try to be balancing, not being disruptive to the city, but also saying we want to be part of Washington D.C.,” Obama said.