Tales from the Trail

First draft: Michael Phelps takes cue from politicians

March 13, 2009

Take note politicians. Michael Phelps might have some pointers for you.

PHELPS/He won eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, but swimmer Phelps sounded more like a politician than an athlete in a morning TV interview today — repeatedly admitting he had made mistakes but sidestepping any direct admission that he had smoked marijuana.

Girl Power hits the White House

March 11, 2009

President Barack Obama, who is surrounded by women at home – wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia — on Wednesday declared Girl Power a priority for the federal government.

The First Draft: “Nobody messes with Joe”

February 25, 2009

One decent laugh line in President Barack Obama’s address to Congress had to do with Vice President Joe Biden and his new assignment in the financial crisis. Obama gave Biden the task of overseeing the recovery process. The Capitol Hill audience broke up when the president announced Biden’s new task:

Obama walks the blue carpet

February 25, 2009

Hollywood had its red carpet Oscar night for stars on Sunday. Washington followed two days later with President Barack Obama’s walk down the peacock blue and gold carpet of the House chamber for a speech to a joint session of Congress.

Mrs. Obama’s Neighborhood

February 11, 2009

michellehugFirst Lady Michelle Obama’s “new neighborhood tour” landed at a community health center a short distance from the White House on Tuesday.

First Lady — drum roll please

February 9, 2009

Some places put out the red carpet. The Interior Department got creative and put the drums out for first lady Michelle Obama’s visit. She was treated to a traditional drumming tribal honor song played by a 7-member Black Bear Tribal Group band on Monday.

Obama tries to turn page on nominee woes

February 3, 2009

If you’re the United States president and two of your nominees for key government posts embarrassingly withdraw on the same day because of tax problems, what do you do?
Well, if you’re President Barack “No Drama” Obama the answer is simple — you go to a local school to read a book to a 2nd Grade school class with your wife. 

First lady Michelle Obama in spotlight at reception

January 29, 2009

First lady Michelle Obama took a turn in the spotlight Thursday, hosting a reception for a woman whose treatment at Goodyear prompted Congress to change the law on pay discrimination. 
It was one of the highest-profile public events for the first lady since the inauguration last week. And it was on behalf of a woman — Lilly Ledbetter — who got to know the first couple well during the presidential campaign.
President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act into law in the East Room of the White House flanked by a small crowd of lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“This is what change looks like,” Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland joked to the audience as the lawmakers crowded around the document Obama was to sign.
The first lady later spoke about Ledbetter at a reception in the State Dining Room as guests sipped orange juice and cranberry juice and munched cherry orange scones, apple muffins and other pastries.
“She is one of my favorite people in the whole wide world,” Michelle Obama said. 
“She knew unfairness when she saw it and was willing to do something about it because it was the right thing to do, plain and simple.”
Ledbetter discovered after 19 years on the job at Goodyear Tire & Rubber that she was the lowest-paid supervisor at her plant despite having more experience than some male co-workers.
A jury found she was the victim of discrimination. But the Supreme Court reversed the decision two years ago, saying discrimination claims must be filed within 180 days of the first offense.
“I will never see a cent from my case,” Ledbetter said. “But with the passage (of the bill) and president’s signature today, I have an even richer reward. I know that my daughters and granddaughters and your daughters and your granddaughters will have a better deal.” 
For more Reuters political news, click here.

The First Draft: The first day

January 21, 2009

The inauguration celebrations are over and the clean up begins as Barack Obama prepares for his first full day of work. OBAMA/

Obama saluted by marching bands, dancers, mower drivers

January 21, 2009

More than 10,000 people from across America — an Eskimo dance group from Alaska, a high school band from Hawaii and enactors of a black Civil War regiment from Massachusetts among them — OBAMA/were in the inaugural parade Tuesday for President Barack Obama. 
There were cultural groups, members of the U.S. military, drill teams, Indians, floats, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Alabama teenagers dressed in vibrant organza hoop skirts and a band of Illinoisans pushing whimsically decorated lawn mowers and carrying brooms among the 103 units from all 50 states in the parade.
It took three hours for them all to travel the 1.5 mile route, mostly on broad Pennsylvania Avenue, from the Capitol to the White House.
Some of the groups could claim a relationship to the new president.
The first band in the parade was from Punahou School in Honolulu, where Obama was a student from fifth through 12th grades.
Also in the parade were members of the Naval Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Whitney Young High School in Chicago, where Michelle Obama, the president’s wife, was a student from 1977-81.
Some of the links were more light-hearted. Obama marched with the “World Famous Lawn Rangers,” the lawn mower team from Arcola, in east-central Illinois, during the 2003 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Chicago.