Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Line dance

Here’s something that Republicans might want to hear: the White House is promising that its budget will include serious deficit control.

EGYPT-USA/“The budget will show a very serious path of deficit reduction,” White House Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew said in an interview with Reuters’ White House correspondents Alister Bull and Jeff Mason.

While the budget will make “tough choices and tough cuts,” Lew said, “there will also be the question of how far do you want to go in some of these areas and what are the consequences of going beyond a certain line.”

That line and where it is drawn will be scrutinized when Obama releases his budget proposal on Feb. 14 (yes, Valentine’s Day).

Speaking of lines, the United States appears to be taking a tougher one with its ally of 30 years, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. While not calling for Mubarak’s immediate departure, the White House said transition must start right away. “Now means now,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

McConnell sees 2012 presidential race wide open, no Republican heir apparent

Who will lead the Republican Party in the 2012 presidential race?

USA/Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says plenty of Republicans will throw their hat into that ring, especially if Democratic President Barack Obama’s popularity stays on the low side.

What about Sarah Palin? The Tea Party favorite appears to be positioning herself for a possible run — she’s endorsing candidates in this year’s midterm elections and taking on Democrats when there’s an opening.

“I think she’s going to be one of a number of Republican leaders who are going to be looking at the presidential contest after the election,” McConnell said in a Reuters interview. “They’re all viable.”

Latest book on Obama’s reading list: Life of Pi

Presidential reading lists have a tendency to set Washington abuzz.

Last month, when the Wall Street Journal reported that President Barack Obama was reading Gordon Goldstein’s “Lessons in Disaster,” pundits wondered if the book about the mistakes of the Vietnam War might hold clues to the president’s thinking on his Afghanistan strategy.

Yesterday, during a Reuters interview, when Obama asked what I was reading with my 12-year-old son (“Great Expectations”), he revealed that he was reading the best-selling fantasy-adventure book “Life of Pi.” BRITAIN

His 11-year-old daughter, Malia, is reading it on her own and Obama, who read the Harry Potter series to her when she was younger, finds it compelling too.

Obama admits to mistakes, but no big ones

Barack Obama says he probably makes one mistake a day, but doesn’t think he has made any fundamental ones in almost 10 months as president of the United States.

obamartrsToward the end of his first term, his predecessor George W. Bush famously said in answer to a question that he could not think of any mistakes he had made — a comment which long dogged him as the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 led to chaos in Iraq.

When Obama was asked the same question on Monday, he was quicker on his feet.

“Oh, we make at least one mistake a day,” he said with a smile.

“But I will say this, I don’t think we’ve made big mistakes,” he told Reuters in an interview in the Oval Office. “I don’t think we’ve made fundamental mistakes.”