Tales from the Trail

The First Draft: Wednesday, Dec 17


President-elect Barack Obama is almost done with his first chore.

Obama, who takes office on Jan. 20, holds a news conference in Chicago on Wednesday to announce he has picked former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack to head the agriculture department and Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar as interior secretary.USA-POLITICS/

With those selections, Obama moves closer to filling the last of the Cabinet posts in his administration, with nominees for transportation, labor and U.S. Trade Representative still to be named. 

It is a rapid pace for the next president, who has moved faster than his recent predecessors in making Cabinet selections. He hoped to have most of them out of the way before he heads to Hawaii on vacation at the end of the week. 

Detroit’s Big Three automakers hope Bush administration officials move as fast, as they wait for word on a bailout that could keep them solvent. 

Senior Democratic lawmakers said on Monday they expected action from the Bush administration as early as Wednesday on financing that would likely take the stricken companies through early 2009. 

The First Draft: Tuesday, Dec 16


The futures of Detroit’s reeling Big Three automakers and Illinois’ disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich hovered in a sort of suspended animation on Tuesday, with both awaiting final word of their fates. 

The carmakers have hope. Blagojevich’s hopes may be running out.
Illinois lawmakers approved an inquiry on Monday into whether Blagojevich should be impeached on charges he tried to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. The state’s attorney general has gone to court to have him removed.

But Blagojevich has denied doing anything wrong and shown no willingness to resign his $177,000-a-year post. 

The First Draft

President Bush tends to ceremonial duties Wednesday while the White House ramps up preparations for the G20 summit this weekend. The G20, which groups industrialized and rapidly developing economies, will be discussing moves to tackle the global financial crisis.

The House Financial Services Committee is looking into the mortgage crisis. It has a hearing on whether banks and other lenders are doing enough help people in jeopardy of losing their houses by changing the terms of mortgages.

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on whether a religious group must be allowed to put its monument in a city park near a similar Ten Commandments display.