Tales from the Trail

The First Draft: Bill Clinton on race and the healthcare debate

Bill Clinton has tons of respect for Jimmy Carter. But he doesn’t agree that racism is a driving factor behind angry opposition to President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform agenda. OBAMA/

Like Carter, Clinton is a former Democratic governor of a Southern state who has spent years battling entrenched racism against blacks.

“I sympathize with where President Carter’s coming from. If you’re a white southerner and you’ve fought these battles a long time, you’re super-sensitive to any kind of discrimination based on race,” Clinton, a former Arkansas governor, said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Carter, a former Georgia governor, raised the issue of race after U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted “You lie” at Obama during the president’s healthcare speech to Congress this month. Thousands of conservatives also rallied in opposition to the president at demonstrations in Washington.

“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man,” Carter told NBC News.

The First Draft: Deja vu for Obama, Congress, healthcare?

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President Barack Obama heads for Capitol Hill tomorrow to address a joint session of Congress on one of the most pressing issues of the day, healthcare reform. For those with middling-to-long memories of Washington, this may have a familiar ring. Another Democratic president argued for healthcare reform on another September day some 16 years ago, and somehow healthcare remains unreformed.

rtr1oqi_compBack then, it was President Bill Clinton, who spoke to Congress on September 22, 1993. That speech was full of sounding phrases like “healthcare that can never be taken away” and “security, simplicity and savings.” It also paid tribute to contributions from then-first lady and now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose efforts to change U.S. healthcare went down to defeat.

Obama tried out some sounding phrases of his own on Labor Day in Cincinnati, calling on Congress to pass healthcare legislation this year.

Bush daughter to be TV reporter

Teacher, author and now television correspondent.

Not a bad resume for a former first daughter .

Former President George W. Bush’s daughter Jenna Hager, a Baltimore teacher, is joining NBC’s “Today” crew as a correspondent, the show’s executive producer Jim Bell told AP on Sunday.

Hager, 27, will work out of NBC’s Washington bureau, but she won’t be covering politics. Nor does she intend to talk about her eight years under public scrutiny known mostly as one of the Bush Twins.

“I hope to focus on what I’m passionate about because I think I’d do the best job on them — education, urban education, women and children’s issues and literacy,” Hager said.

A Jonas Brother for President?

nick-j-picNick Jonas, the youngest of the world famous Jonas Brothers singing trio, told a National Press Club audience on Monday he’s “always had this dream of becoming president one day.”

The 16-year-old singer, songwriter and actor was in Washington to raise awareness about type 1 diabetes, a disease he was diagnosed with in 2005. Earlier this year, he met President Obama as part of his diabetes work.

In an interview with Reuters, Jonas said his own presidential aspirations were not entirely a joke.

The First Draft: Showdown in Virginia

No major events are on the calendar today in the Federal City, but on the other side of the Potomac River there’s plenty to chew over.

Virginia Democrats on Tuesday night picked State Sen. Creigh Deeds, an unpolished moderate from the rural Shenandoah Valley, over better-funded rivals in the state’s gubernatorial primary.

This normally wouldn’t be big news, but the Virginia governor’s race is sure to get lots of national scrutiny as one of only two major electoral contests this year (along with the New Jersey governor’s race).

The First Draft: Reading tea leaves in Virginia

USA-POLITICS/The year after a presidential election, there’s typically few electoral contests on the calendar as politicians focus on getting some work done so they’ll have something to brag about to voters during the next election.

The few races that do occur tend to be heavily scrutinized as pundits look for something to chew over in the slow period before next year’s congressional midterms.

Today, Democrats in Virginia go to the polls to pick a candidate for the governor’s mansion, as incumbent Tim Kaine is constitutionally limited to one term. On the Republican side, Robert McDonnell faces no opposition for his party’s nomination.

Who decided which Chrysler dealers to close?

Washington is always full of conspiracy theories –  one of the latest surrounds the decision to close hundreds of Chrysler dealerships following the automaker’s slide into bankruptcy.

Conservatives want to know whether dealerships with Republican ties were targeted by the Obama administration.

CHRYSLER/BANKRUPTCYSome are seizing on a Reuters article. In it, a lawyer who represents some of the terminated dealers said after a deposition with Chrysler President Jim Press that the automaker did not make the decision.

Michelle Obama’s close encounters with Elmo, Big Bird and U.S. diplomats

Michelle ObamaU.S. first lady Michelle Obama told an audience at the U.S. mission to the United Nations that she was “thrilled” to be back in New York for the first time since her husband Barack Obama became the 44th U.S. president in January. But she said some things are even more exciting than addressing an audience of 150 U.S. diplomats, military advisers and other government officials.

“I’m thrilled to be here but I was just at ‘Sesame Street’, I’m sorry,” she said, referring to the long-running U.S. children’s television program. “I never thought I’d be on ‘Sesame Street’ with Elmo and Big Bird and I was thrilled. I’m still thrilled. I’m on a high. I think it’s probably the best thing I’ve done so far in the White House.”

Elmo
One of the biggest rounds of applause during the first lady’s 20-minute appearance at the U.S. mission in midtown Manhattan came when she read a letter the son of one of the mission staffers, Scott Turner, recently sent to the president.  According to Michelle Obama, Turner’s son Jack, a first grader,  wrote to the president:

Tell us what you really think Senator Grassley

WASHINGTON – How outraged can they be?

U.S. lawmakers are clearly outraged by the $165 million in bonuses being paid to executives at bailed-out insurer American International Group. For the last two days, they’ve been talking about it in press releases,  at news conference and in speeches on the floor of the Senate and House.

But no one says it more colorfully and more bluntly than Republican Senator Chuck Grassley — so far.

grassley“From my standpoint, it’s irresponsible for corporations to give bonuses, at this time, when they are so sucking the tit of the taxpayer,” Grassley said at a news conference on Tuesday.

from Photographers' Blog:

Welcome aboard Air Force One

Larry Downing is a Reuters senior staff photographer assigned to the White House. He shares that duty with three other staff photographers. He has lived in Washington since 1977 and has been assigned to cover the White House , including flying aboard Air Force One, since 1978. President Barack Obama is the sixth president Larry has photographed.

Only two identical aircraft exist in the world which both share the same high-level function. They mirror one another precisely except for the numeric identifier on the tail. One reads 28000, the other 29000.
They’re as sleek as they are majestic. Anticipation runs high when either travels and both are red carpet worthy. They are concealed around-the-clock in a protective cocoon while being constantly pampered at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

“Use of Deadly Force is Authorized” inside the security perimeter ringing around the outermost tips of their wings, and absolutely no one is allowed to enter without permission.