Tales from the Trail

Attorney General cracks tooth, misses trip to Aspen

Must be playing all that hardball by President Barack Obama’s administration.

Attorney General Eric Holder becomes the second Cabinet official to miss travel after breaking something. FINANCIAL/HOLDER

Holder, the country’s top law enforcement official, cracked a tooth last night and missed a trip to Aspen, Colorado, where he had been scheduled to attend the “Aspen Ideas Festival” on the eve of a long weekend for the Fourth of July holiday.

His injury follows Secretary of State Hillary Clinton breaking her right elbow two weeks ago and she is missing a trip to Moscow with Obama next week.

After cracking the tooth last night, Holder went to the dentist this morning and was ordered to have emergency oral surgery to immediately remove the offender from his pearly whites.

The First Draft: On The Road Again

EGYPT/Now that Congress is back from its week-long Memorial Day recess, it’s time for the U.S. top brass to hit the road. President Barack Obama heads to the Middle East today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Honduras, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is in China and U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke promises a visit to Pakistan this week.

Closer to home, Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor starts making the rounds on Capitol Hill in advance of her confirmation hearings. Meantime, Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal faces questions at his confirmation hearing today before the Senate Armed Services Committee today. McChrystal’s nominated to be the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

This might be an opportune time for travel. The Ipsos/Reuters poll indicates global consumer confidence is stabilizing, after dropping for 18 months.

The First Draft: Navel gazers no more

USA/Republican Party chairman Michael Steele yesterday urged his fellow GOPers to stop “navel gazing” and go on the offensive against President Obama and his Democrats, and it appears they are getting right to it.

Today, the party votes on a resolution to ask the Democratic Party to rename itself “The Democrat Socialist Party.”

And Newt Gingrich, the former Republican House speaker, said current House speaker Nancy Pelosi should step down for accusing the CIA of lying to Congress about torture.

The First Draft: White House wooing comes in waves

OBAMA/It’s a busy day at the White House, with waves of lawmakers moving in for talks with President Barack Obama, in between a press statement and before a commencement address.

Wave One: House Democratic leaders — Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel of New York and Education and Labor Chairman George Miller and Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman, both of California — come to discuss health care.

Wave Two: Senate leaders from both parties — Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont, both Democrats, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and ranking Republican Jeff Sessions of Alabama — talk with the president about a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

First draft: Talking to Afghans, Pakistanis

AFGHAN/KARZAIPresident Barack Obama will jump into the thorny issue of Afghan-Pakistani relations today as he meets with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.

The visiting leaders will meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before heading over to the White House where they will have separate meetings with Obama and Vice President Biden before a trialateral gathering.PAKISTAN-AID/ZARDARI

Though the administration has doubts about the capability of both men, Obama is expected to urge Karzai and Zardari to put aside a history of mistrust and join Washington in an alliance against Islamic extremists.

Afghan solution: pomegranates for poppies

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has an idea for dealing with the heroin trade in Afghanistan: pomegranates. AFGHANISTAN

That could in effect shoot two birds with one stone, as the saying goes, merging her previous focus as first lady on healthcare with her new responsibiities as U.S. diplomacy chief.

Pomegranate juice is proven to lower cholesterol, Clinton told a congressional hearing. “Afghanistan used to be and still is one of the principle growers of pomegranates, and I think there’s a lot we can do here,” she said.

First Draft: It’s Take-Your-Kids-To-The-White-House Day!

MASTERCARD/AMERICANEXPRESSJust as the cherry tree blossoms pass their peak and not long after the Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn, there’s another hallowed Washington spring tradition: Take Your Child To Work Day. That’s when Type A parents with Type A jobs bring their kids to the office to give them some idea of what Mom and Dad do for a living — and that includes people who work at the White House, the State Department and on Capitol Hill.

First Lady Michelle Obama hosts the under-age crowd at the White House, with an event in the East Room at mid-morning. Her husband, President Barack Obama, is expected to be otherwise engaged then, and later is set to meet with credit card company executives, and it might not be suitable for children: presidential aides have labeled some of the companies’ practices “abusive.”

At the State Department, Secretary Hillary Clinton welcomes the kids at an event that, in keeping with discreet diplomacy, is closed to the press. Children and their working parents are also expected to visit Capitol Hill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is an enthusiastic supporter of the event.

First Draft: It’s Earth Day — The Green and the Red

President Barack Obama  heads to Iowa later today for an Earth Day tour of a former Maytag plant which has been reconfigured to produce wind energy equipment, lining up the “green jobs” that the Obama administration is pushing as part of the future for the American heartland.


OBAMA/Green is on the menu back in Washington, too, where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will talk about “Greening Diplomacy” at an Earth Day event, but only after she testifies at the House Foreign Affairs Committee about more down-to-earth aspects of U.S. policy around the globe.

Another key player on Obama’s environment team — Energy Secretary Stephen Chu — will also be on the Hill talking green at a hearing on energy and climate change legislation.

The First Draft: South of the Border

MEXICO/President Obama heads south to meet with Mexico President Felipe Calderon, to discuss drug-related violence, energy and trade. He leaves Andrews Air Force Base at around 10 a.m.

Before that, he announced plans to promote high-speed rail network.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also headed south, visiting Haiti before meeting up with Obama in Trinidad and Tobago for the Summit of the Americas.

Yes, Congress is still out of town.

The Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay GOPers, open their convention tonight with a dinner and drinks at a gay-friendly sports bar. Cindy and Meghan McCain host a reception for big-money sponsors tomorrow, but no current Republican officeholders are scheduled to address the group.

Bill and Hillary take to joint stage on Haiti

USA/USA/Haiti is a family concern for Washington power couple, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and husband former President Bill Clinton. 

The Clintons — albeit separately — addressed a donors conference on Haiti on Tuesday — Hillary as the new top diplomat and Bill as the head of his charity.  

In her morning address, Hillary Clinton shared her love for the impoverished nation, revealing she went to Haiti for the first time with her husband soon after they were married.