Tales from the Trail

Bomb plot thrusts Obama into political storm

January 4, 2010

President Barack Obama is weathering a political storm over last month’s suspected al Qaeda plot to bomb a Detroit-bound plane, particularly from Republicans who say he dropped the ball on security while pursuing healthcare and climate reforms. But how much substance there is behind the allegations may depend on who’s talking.

The First Draft: White House takes a lonely road to openness on Crasher-gate

December 3, 2009

President Barack Obama’s senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, feels the White House doesn’t need Congress to help it maintain openness on the Crasher-gate scandal. That’s why it’s chosen to eschew the limelight of a Capitol Hill hearing today. USA/

Obama nominates Bush spokeswoman to broadcast board

November 19, 2009

She represented President George W. Bush before the world’s media and now is a commentator for Fox News. And she’s been quite a vocal critic of the current White House. USA/

Obama admits to mistakes, but no big ones

November 10, 2009

Barack Obama says he probably makes one mistake a day, but doesn’t think he has made any fundamental ones in almost 10 months as president of the United States.

The First Draft: Jobs (not), Jobs (not), Jobs (not)

November 6, 2009

The October employment report is in and it’s a shocker.

The unemployment rate jumped to 10.2 percent, the highest since April 1983 when it was also 10.2 pct. If you don’t want to do the math, that was 26 years ago. It was worse than expectations for 9.9 percent. TEXAS-SHOOTING/SOLDIER

Victory for Karzai, minefield for Obama?

November 2, 2009

Former President George W. Bush used to talk about the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” He was talking about education in the United States.

Obama tells critics to “grab a mop”

October 21, 2009

President Barack Obama fired back on Tuesday at conservative critics who say he has not accomplished enough in his first nine months in office.

The First Draft: What was the Nobel committee thinking?

October 9, 2009

OBAMA/Even before sunrise in Washington, tongues were wagging over the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s choice of President Barack Obama to receive this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. And the big question — aside from whether a first-term president in his ninth month in office has done enough to deserve the award — was, what was the committee thinking?

Where former Attorney General Gonzales is now….

August 31, 2009

Alberto Gonzales was probably one of the most controversial U.S. attorneys general in history and left in a swirl of controversy about fired federal prosecutors and his role in authorizing harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects.After keeping a relatively a low profile since resigning in the summer of 2007, he has now begun his stint as a visiting professor at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, where he will teach a course entitled “Contemporary Issues in the Executive Branch” that will encompass crafting legislation and shepherding a Supreme Court nominee through the SenateUSA/ He sat down with Texas Lawyer for one of the most wide-ranging interviews he has given since leaving office in which he offers insights into many of the controversies.On the issue of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques authorized by the Bush Justice Department — which are in the spotlight now as the new Obama administration is examining whether they broke the law — Gonzales said it was natural that such guidance is revised over time.”What the lawyers tried to do (during the Bush years) was to define, to give boundaries to what the statute allowed,” Gonzales said. “When I was in the administration I encouraged lawyers to continually look at our legal position and to get comfortable if we were in fact on solid ground. And if people wanted to continue to revise, I think that was the appropriate role for lawyers.”As White House counsel, Gonzales made a controversial visit to the hospital bed of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft to push for approval of a secret surveillance program. Gonzales said he would discuss the incident in greater detail in his forthcoming book but that he went at President George W. Bush’s behest.”The reason we went to General Ashcroft is because he is the one who had been approving this program and these activities for a number of years. And he had been the Senate-confirmed attorney general, and as far as the president was concerned, that’s the person he wanted us to talk to,” Gonzales said.However, at the time, the deputy attorney general, James Comey, was in charge (and he was also confirmed by the U.S. Senate) while Ashcroft recovered from surgery.Gonzales in the interview also again strenuously defended his role in the firing of several federal prosecutors and said he had been cleared of wrongdoing by the inspector general.One final interesting tidbit from the interview is a rather stark contrast between Gonzales and Vice President Dick Cheney over who is chief U.S. law enforcement officer.In a Fox News interview on Sunday, while discussing the Obama administration’s decision to appoint a special prosecutor to examine whether there was any wrongdoing in the harsh interrogations, Cheney said the president is the chief law enforcement officer in the administration. But Gonzales said the attorney general holds that title and must fulfill that obligation.The Justice Department’s website offers the historical support for Gonzales’ position, here.Click here for more Reuters political coverage.- Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

Bush daughter to be TV reporter

August 31, 2009

Teacher, author and now television correspondent.

Not a bad resume for a former first daughter .

Former President George W. Bush’s daughter Jenna Hager, a Baltimore teacher, is joining NBC’s “Today” crew as a correspondent, the show’s executive producer Jim Bell told AP on Sunday.