Critics of outgoing President George W. Bush turned a stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House into a rowdy street theater on the eve of his handover of power to Barack Obama.
Tales from the Trail
It’s not a day to move house in Washington. The U.S. capital woke up to a face-stinging hypothermic cold that had early morning commuters walking just a little bit faster to get to the heated comfort of their offices.
But it’s packing day for the Bush administration. As White House staffers move out, ahead of President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration on Tuesday, President George W. Bush’s spokeswoman Dana Perino will give her last news conference.
Over at the State Department, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will attend a farewell ceremony closed to the press. It follows Bush’s televised farewell address to Americans on Thursday night in which he defended his record after eight tumultuous years in office.
WASHINGTON – U.S. President-elect Barack Obama skipped his soon-to-be predecessor’s final address to the nation on Thursday in favor of dining out.
At roughly 8 p.m. in Washington, about the time President George W. Bush began his televised speech, Obama left his new temporary residence across from the White House to go out for dinner in a restaurant a few blocks away.
The ride in his motorcade lasted about a minute and an aide said his wife, Michelle, accompanied him for the meal.
Bush, who was speaking for the final time to the country, reflected on his eight years in office and opened by wishing his successor well.
“This is a moment of hope and pride for our whole nation,” Bush said. “And I join all Americans in offering best wishes to President-elect Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their two beautiful girls.”
Obama spent the day working at his transition office in downtown Washington, then came to the Blair House — the residence where his family will stay from now until the inauguration — at around 7:15 p.m.
He left the house about 45 minutes later and entered the restaurant while Bush was speaking.
Maybe he’ll read the transcript?
Obama goes to Ohio on Friday to visit a factory. The trip is designed to highlight his proposals to create jobs and boost the economy. On Saturday Obama returns to Washington on a train ride that kicks off several days of inauguration festivities.
Obama routinely criticized Bush over domestic and foreign policy during the 2008 election, but the transition of power between the two leaders has proceeded smoothly.
Last week Obama had lunch with Bush and the three other living former U.S. presidents at the White House.
Congress is nervous about spending more money.
In other news, pigs are flying, hell is freezing over and Democrats and Republicans are cooperating for the good of the country.
Two of those things are actually true. The outgoing Bush administration and the incoming Obama administration are working together to get Congress to approve the second half of the $700 billion financial bailout, so Obama can hand it out quickly if needed.
But Democrats on Capitol Hill want to attach more conditions to banks that accept federal cash — limits on executive pay, more oversight, and more help for homeowners facing foreclosure.
“My colleagues in the Senate will not provide any additional funds unless they are assured by the Obama administration taht these provisions will be a part of it,” Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Republicans, meanwhile, question whether the money is needed at all.
Obama is also urging Congress to approve an additional $800 billion economic stimulus package. Should be a stimulating week.
Obama also will discuss trade and the drug war with Mexican President Felipe Calderon today in his first meeting with a foreign leader since his election.
Bush, meanwhile, holds a press conference at 9:15 EST.