Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Modern pursuits

Former Vice President Dick Cheney says he’s using modern technology like a BlackBerry and Kindle, when he didn’t even have a cellphone at the White House.

“I’m not totally modern. I still write long-hand and don’t use a computer for that kind of thing,” Cheney said in an NBC interview. “My grandchildren still laugh at me,” he said, and his 3-year-old grandson showed him how to play the Angry Birds game on an iPad. USA-CHINA/

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, while sticking to their well-trod positions on healthcare, did refrain from aiming big slingshots at opponents. (Angry Birds fans, that’s for you).

Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived to a red carpet welcome at Andrews Air Force Base where Vice President Joe Biden greeted him. Full pomp and circumstance will be on display tomorrow at the White House, symbolizing the importance that the United States places on ties with China.

But there will be plenty of squawking in the background over China’s currency and human rights.

So how’s he doing now? New polls on Obama healthcare

The White House (whether its occupant is Obama or Bush) has a tendency to be dismissive of public opinion polls, shrugging them aside as inconsequential to the president’s decision-making and basically to be brushed off like dandruff on a shoulder.

That is unless the polls are going their way.

USA-HEALTHCAREWhite House spokesman Robert Gibbs, amid the glee of the healthcare bill signing Tuesday, tweeted @PressSec “In the polling obsessed town of Washington, DC this will give the nattering nabobs of negativity something to chew on” with a link to a story about the USA Today/Gallup poll that said 49 percent vs. 40 percent saw passage of  the bill as “a good thing.”

But while early post-healthcare polling data show a bump in President Barack Obama’s favorability ratings, it remains to be seen whether there’s a trend in the making.

Talking healthcare: How close is “close”?

The talk on Capitol Hill is that a deal is close on healthcare legislation, President Barack Obama’s signature issue.

But trying to define what close means is not that easy. How far away is close can basically be anything since the definition of the word close does not have an actual time attached to it. USA HEALTHCARE

“I would certainly hope that within the next 24, 48, 72 hours, that we have a general agreement between the Senate and the House.” House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer told CNBC on Friday.