Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – It’s genetic

Forget about the branch. President Barack Obama offered the whole olive tree to the business community today with the appointment of JP Morgan Chase executive William Daley as White House Chief of Staff.

OBAMA/STAFF-DALEYDaley also knows something about politics. He comes from Chicago where politics has a history of being played bare-knuckled style. Oh, and his brother is the Daley who is stepping down as Chicago mayor, which opened the way for Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former White House chief of staff (whom Daley is replacing), to run for that office.

Plenty more dots to connect — Daley was also former President Bill Clinton’s commerce secretary, and Clinton has come to Obama’s aid on more than one occasion (even before the press).

Obama said Daley “has a smidgen of awareness of how our system of government and politics works. You might say it is a genetic trait.”

The Chamber of Commerce did not even try to contain its glee. “This is a strong appointment,” said Thomas Donohue, president of the business group.

Washington Extra – Building a better Haiti

Returning home from a fascinating week in Haiti today, and meetings with the prime minister, UN mission chief, aid workers, business leaders and middle class and poor Haitians. HAITI/

In a sense, Haiti is another test case for the international aid and development effort. A disaster on the scale of the January earthquake — striking a poor country with a weak government and private sector — has highlighted all the well-known pros and cons of the international aid effort, which now seems to run much of the country and economy. 

Today, there is very little malnutrition, epidemics and major disturbances have been avoided and healthcare for most Haitians is better than before the quake struck, all major achievements.

Rahm’s White House going away present – dead fish wrapped in newspaper

What do you get a guy who’s leaving the White House to run for Mayor of Chicago?

White House colleagues presented Rahm Emanuel with a dead Asian carp wrapped in Chicago newspapers at the morning meeting on his last day. fish

It was a symbol of two of the many political battles fought by the man who became President Barack Obama’s chief of staff — he once sent a dead fish to a pollster as a message of displeasure, and the other was his fight against the Asian carp threatening to invade the Great Lakes.

Washington Extra – Storm clouds over Haiti

There was a tremendous outpouring of goodwill and money for Haiti after the quake, which prevented a further humanitarian catastrophe. But so far, nine months after the capital was devastated, progress in “building back better” seems painfully slow. haitiRubble still chokes the narrow streets of Port-au-Prince, and 1.3 million people occupy every available scrap of land in tents awaiting resettlement, or even just a government plan on what to do with them.

Given the mind-boggling scale of the disaster, the weakness of the government and economy even before the earthquake, the lack of land as well as clearly defined land ownership records, it is unfair to expect too much.

But today everyone seems to be asking: What has all this goodwill achieved in terms of lasting benefits to Haiti? One thing that is clear from our interviews this week is the government, local elites and the international community seem to be playing something of a blame game.

Gibbs skillfully dances around Rahm question

The performance was worthy of “Dancing with the Stars.”

USA/Watching White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs waltz around the question  of whether White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel had decided to leave and run for mayor of Chicago was quite breathtaking.

Speculation was rife all week that President Barack Obama’s top enforcer would announce that he would leave by the weekend to run for Chicago Mayor, a job he’d always said he wanted.

All that remained was confirmation.

So when anonymous sources told reporters today that Rahm had made the decision and he was leaving, all anybody wanted was confirmation at the White House press briefing.

from Summit Notebook:

How do White House staff know when it’s time to leave?

SUMMIT-WASHINGTON/GIBBSIt's an age old question that even applies to senior staff working in the White House: At what point do you decide it's time to quit your job and move on?

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs predicted at the Reuters Washington Summit that some people working in the White House will soon decide they want to go back to a less hectic life. Especially those who worked on President Barack Obama's presidential campaign which lasted two grueling years.

"It's a tremendous privilege to come and work in that building each and every day," said Gibbs.

Is time off allowed during a mammoth oil spill crisis? Depends…

BP CEO Tony Hayward takes time off to watch his yacht race in British waters, President Barack Obama goes golfing over the Father’s Day weekend. OIL-SPILL/

Is that acceptable when the BP oil spill, the worst in U.S. history and a huge environmental disaster, is entering a third month in the Gulf of Mexico?

Well, depends on who you talk to.

The White House on Monday made a cutting remark about Hayward’s yacht trip: “Look, if Tony Hayward wants to put a skimmer on that yacht and bring it down to the Gulf, we’d be happy to have his help,” White House spokesman Bill Burton said at the daily media briefing. 

Obama ready to lend Rahm to Russia

OBAMA/President Barack Obama has a potent weapon in his arsenal if his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev has any concerns about selling a new nuclear arms reduction treaty to the parliament in Moscow — his famously assertive White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

“Just as we have to go to our Congress, President Medvedev has to go to the Duma. And I think President Obama has said that he would send Rahm Emanuel to Moscow,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unexpectedly informed reporters during a White House briefing on the new treaty.

Emanuel’s muscular powers of persuasion are credited with holding U.S. lawmakers in line for the recent approval of the president’s historic healthcare reform, and he was also recently accused by a former colleague of picking an argument while stark-naked in a congressional shower.

Republican wants more Massa exposure but Democrat says it’s over

House Republican Eric Cantor thinks Congress should get to the bottom of Eric Massa’s bizarre tale of congressional nudity, satanic White House advisers, the groping of men (or not) and a congressional healthcare putsch by Democrats. But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says the case is over. 
 

“I know that Steny joins me in hoping that the ethics committee in Congress looks into this adequately and can get to the bottom of all of this,” said Cantor, who appeared along with Hoyer on NBC’s Today show. ”The best place for this to be resolved is in the ethics committee and let’s get to the bottom of it.”

Otherwise, the whole thing seems to make Cantor want to hold his nose. And he is not alone. “I’m a little taken aback and stunned,” the Virginia lawmaker confided. “I don’t know the facts of this at all. I know that the American people are sickened.”

White House responds to naked House Democrat’s satanic tale

OBAMA/

Eric Massa was a little-known freshmen House Democrat only a month ago. Now he’s a political media sensation and a darling of Talk Radio/TV commentators capable of provoking the White House on healthcare reform.

Why the metamorphosis? Massa abruptly resigned from Congress, revealed he had an angry run-in with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel while the two were naked in a congressional gym shower, and now claims he was pushed out of office by the White House to keep him from voting against healthcare reform.

Oh, and he’s come to the conclusion that Emanuel is a “son of the devil’s spawn.”