Tales from the Trail

Official Obama family portrait is in, Bo is not

The official portrait of the first family is in.


There’s Sasha, the youngest at 8 years old, casually draping her arm over the shoulder of the president of the United States.

Older sister Malia embraces her mom, first lady Michelle Obama, as they all sit for their first official first family portrait in the Green Room at the White House on Sept. 1.

It is the work of portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz, known for some of the most famous celebrity photographs of our time — Demi Moore pregnant and nude on the cover of Vanity Fair, and a nude John Lennon curled around Yoko Ono for the cover of Rolling Stone taken on the day of Lennon’s death. OBAMA/

But back to the first family’s portrait. Hold on, isn’t someone missing? Where’s Bo, the first dog? Is he already in the dog house?

“Bo didn’t make the cut,” the first lady’s spokeswoman tells us with a laugh. “He was upstairs at home.”

Genealogist unearths first lady’s family tree back to 1850

A genealogist working with The New York Times has traced Michelle Obama’s family tree back five generations to a 6-year-old slave girl named Melvinia who was valued at $475.

The White House said first lady Michelle Obama had not known many of the details of her family history and enjoyed reading it. She had declined to comment on the story for The New York Times because of the personal nature of the subject.

OBAMA/“I don’t believe she knew or had known all of this, but enjoyed reading about her family history,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Obama Olympics Ouch!

So. What happened?

President Barack Obama dashed overnight to Copenhagen, waved the flag, praised everyone in sight, and came home with Nothing, Nada, Naught, Zero, Zip, Zilch (couldn’t find the Danish word or would have thrown that in too).

OLYMPICS-VOTE/CHICAGOThe Olympics Oracle, after much fumbling with the envelope, read the winner and Rio de Janeiro scooped up the 2016 Summer Games.

Chicago — the hometown for Obama, his wife, and close advisers like David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel — was left out in the cold, not even making it to the T2 (Top Two).

The other G20 news: Obama Olympics, White House honey

Olympics intrigue broke out in the middle of all the U.N., G20, world leader stuff with the rumor that perhaps President Barack Obama might go to Copenhagen after all to pitch his hometown Chicago as the site for the 2016 Summer Games. OLYMPICS-SPORTS/

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs fanned the flames further when asked whether it was possible Obama may go. “Absolutely,” he told reporters on Air Force One headed to Pittsburgh for the G20.

In Washington speak that’s about as close to saying he’s going without announcing he’s going.

Obama brings the Olympics to the White House

OBAMA/OLYMPICSPresident Obama deeply disappointed his hometown Chicago when he announced that he would not go to Copenhagen next month to personally make the city’s case for hosting the 2016 Olympics, so he and first lady Michelle Obama, who is going in his stead, on Wednesday brought the Olympics to the White House instead.

Former Olympic and paralympic athletes, Chicago officials and local schoolchildren attended the event on the White House lawn, where the president and first lady both spoke and watched judo and gymnastic demonstrations. The president even joined in with some of the athletes, earning a gentle jibe from his wife.

“You should have seen the president in there fencing,” she said. “It was pathetic, but he passed the baton really well.”

The First Draft: 9/11, eight years on

USA-SEPT11/Washington awoke to a cool and rainy 9/11 today, so different from the brilliant sunshine that many recall from the day of the 2001 attacks at the Pentagon, the World Trade Center and in an open field in Pennsylvania.

To mark the anniversary, President Barack Obama, the first lady and White House staff observed a moment of silence on the South Lawn at 8:46 a.m., the time when the first hijacked plane hit the first tower in New York City. Next is a presidential wreath-laying and remarks at the Pentagon Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Obamas are slated to participate in a “service event” later in the day, part of a move to make the 9/11 anniversary a day of public service. Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a commemoration ceremony in lower Manhattan. Secretary of State speaks at the first Annual 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance in New York. The National Museum of the Marine Corps marks the anniversary with a new exhibit “dedicated to the historic day and the global war on terrorism.”

The secret to strong-arming Michelle Obama

First lady Michelle Obama should be able to strong-arm just about anyone with those sculpted biceps that have been the talk of the town.

Women’s Health magazine has let the cat out of the bag about how Obama achieved those upper arms that she confidently bares and are the envy of the scared-sleeveless set. OBAMA/DINNER

Cornell McClellan, Obama’s personal trainer, tells the magazine it took 1,872 workouts since 1997, most of them at 5:30 a.m. (hmm let’s weigh the options — sleep or muscles, sleep or muscles, sleep…)

The First Draft: Swearing-in is one thing. A White House do is another.

USA-SOTOMAYOR/For those who may have missed it — and don’t laugh, there could be quite a few who did — there’s a new Supreme Court justice in town. After months of speculation, debate, a Capitol Hill grilling and finally a vote to confirm her, Sonia Sotomayor was sworn in as the first Latina and only the third woman to serve on the U.S. high court.

The problem, for public-awareness purposes, is that it happened on Saturday in an eye-blink ceremony in a conference room at the Supreme Court building. That was a departure from decades of tradition that has dictated a White House oath-taking for new justices, reportedly on President Barack Obama’s say-so.

That doesn’t mean Sotomayor won’t get her time at the White House. That happens this morning in an East Room reception hosted by the president and first lady Michelle Obama.

Who does the talking in the Obama household?

President Barack Obama may run the country, but when it comes to the Obama household, he seems to suspect somebody else is in charge. 
Answering healthcare questions Tuesday at a forum sponsored by the retirees group AARP, the president suggested the first lady did the talking in his house.
Moderator: We go next to North Carolina for a question we had all week last week. I think every town hall had this one. It’s from Colin. And, Colin, go ahead and ask this question.  Go ahead, Colin.
Mary: This is his wife, Mary.
Obama: Hi, Mary.
Mary: Hi.

Obama: What happened to Colin?
Mary: Well, I’m the one they talked to.
Obama: I got you. That’s how it is in my house, too. OBAMA/
The president traveled to a Kroger grocery store in Bristol, Virginia, on Wednesday to stand next to strawberries and raspberries in the fruit section and talk about healthcare reform to 180 gathered employees and guests.
“They don’t let me do my own shopping, but I miss it,” he said. “So I may pick up some fruit on the way out.”
“I don’t want to … talk too long,” Obama added, “because I do have to take some questions from you, and also Michelle’s probably e-mailing me about grabbing some milk on the way home.”
In the end he did buy a piece of fruit — something that looked like a peach but may have been a nectarine. 

No word on the gallon of milk.
For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama talking healthcare in the fruit section at Kroger’s; Obama taking a bite of fruit)

The First Draft: A bumpy Mideast landing

OBAMA/SAUDI ARABIAWithin minutes of President Barack Obama’s arrival in Saudi Arabia today, a recording by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was played on Al Jazeera television. U.S. television networks showed Air Force One landing in Riyadh and the first images of Obama greeting Saudi King Abdullah, the audio recording from bin Laden took aim. The militant leader accused the Obama administration of “planting seeds for hatred and revenge.”

It was a rough beginning to what could be a challenging visit to the Middle East and Europe by Obama. He spends tonight at the Saudi monarch’s farm, then flies to Cairo tomorrow for a much-previewed address to the Muslim world. He then travels to Germany and finally to France to commemorate D-Day, returning to Washington on Saturday.

There’s a full cast of characters testifying today on Capitol Hill. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke appears before the House Budget Committee on challenges facing the economy. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu talks to a panel of the House Appropriations Committee. And executives from GM and Chrysler testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on protecting auto dealers and consumers after the closure of hundreds of car dealerships at both companies.