Tales from the Trail

Obama ‘grappling’ on gay marriage, Nadler to introduce respect bill

President Barack Obama has ordered the U.S. government to stop defending in court the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that bars gay marriage, but his personal views are not so clear.

CALIFORNIA-GAYMARRIAGE/White House spokesman Jay Carney emphasized that there was a distinction between Obama’s personal views and the legal issue.

So what is Obama’s personal view on gay marriage? “I would refer you just to his fairly recent statements on that.  He’s grappling with the issue,” Carney said.

At a news conference on Dec. 22, Obama said: “My feelings about this are constantly evolving.  I struggle with this.  I have friends, I have people who work for me, who are in powerful, strong, long-lasting gay or lesbian unions.  And they are extraordinary people, and this is something that means a lot to them and they care deeply about.”

“At this point, what I’ve said is, is that my baseline is a strong civil union that provides them the protections and the legal rights that married couples have.  And I think — and I think that’s the right thing to do.  But I recognize that from their perspective it is not enough, and I think is something that we’re going to continue to debate and I personally am going to continue to wrestle with going forward.”

Washington Extra – New guy

The crowds, the anticipation, the time checks…

Jay Carney’s first appearance behind the podium in the White House press room as President Barack Obama’s new press secretary had all the markings of a mini-movie premiere… Beltway style. USA/

As the hands on the clock passed 12:30 p.m. the tweeting began — he’s late! On the first day!

No detail was too small to note. “Thanks for retiring the pastel ties. No offense to Robert, but it’s nice to see a dark tie,” one reporter said. We think the color was either plum, maroon, or a combination of both.

New White House press secretary Carney sounds a few familiar notes

President Barack Obama’s new press secretary, Jay Carney, took a few phrases out of his predecessor’s playbook during his first stint at the White House podium.

It turns out that he, like Robert Gibbs, is not an economist. And he doesn’t want to speculate. And he refers you to the (insert relevant department here) for further details on questions that were not entirely on his radar. USA/

Despite those familiar dodges — “I’m not an economist” was a favorite line of Gibbs — Carney did show up prepared on Wednesday.

Valentine’s Day with the GOP

What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than by sending your special someone a pink e-card, covered in hearts, with a message from the president: “Hope you like this Valentine’s card, your grandchildren are paying for it.”

In the GOP version of My Funny Valentine and a way to raise some sweet cash, the Republican National Committee is poking some fun at the White House and its Democratic cohorts with GOPvalentine.com, and more than 30,000 of the snarky messages had been sent as of Friday morning.

The site boasts 18 card options, including “This card entitles you to one free hug  full-body pat-down” with a photo of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and “Don’t censure this Valentine” with a photo of Rep. Charles Rangel, who was censured by the House of Representatives for ethics violations.

Washington Extra – Job prospects

The U.S. economy grew 2.9 percent in 2010, the biggest GDP gain since 2005, but still too weak to make a big dent in the unemployment rate which ended the year at 9.4 percent.

EGYPT/USAEgyptian protesters again took to the streets seeking to oust President Hosni Mubarak from the job he’s held for 30 years.

Rather than risk a fissure in messages, the White House held its press briefing, while the State Department canceled. In the strongest public message so far, the United States warned Egypt it would review some $1.3 billion in aid based on the government’s response to the massive protests.

Washington Extra – Red light, green light

The White House seems to be in go-slow amber mode over the protests in Egypt – declaring President Hosni Mubarak an ally, but supporting free speech as the American way.

It’s much easier to take a stance when the government is not an ally, as happened with Iran’s crackdown on street protests in 2009 when President Barack Obama said firmly: “I strongly condemn these unjust actions.” USA/

Today, Obama was asked in a YouTube interview that took questions from the public about the protests in Egypt. His response: “Egypt’s been an ally of ours on a lot of critical issues, they made peace with Israel, President Mubarak has been very helpful on a range of tough issues in the Middle East, but I’ve always said to him that making sure that they are moving forward on reform — political reform, economic reform — is absolutely critical for the long-term well-being of Egypt. And you can see these pent-up frustrations that are being displayed on the street.”