Tales from the Trail

Market drop reveals secret of White House podium: it doesn’t do real-time news

The stock market was dropping quickly, down more than 900 points for a bit, and market reports were citing Greece’s financial troubles. The White House briefing was in full swing.

Reporters facing President Barack Obama’s press secretary found they had up-to-minute information that Robert Gibbs did not.

OBAMA/One reporter asked about the stock market’s drop below 10,000 ”in the last few seconds, while you’ve been talking.” Gibbs had no immediate answer. “Let me go find out. You guys have — I’m going to start bringing my computer.”

But what about that fancy podium with all the gizmos, can’t he just call up the news with a fingertip? Apparently not.

Gibbs pressed one of the buttons on the podium and turned to the screen behind him — “These little things just say the White House, and you click on them, and they go to a blank screen, and then it goes back to the White House … this doesn’t do a thing,” he said.

Obama calls New York street vendor-turned-hero





President Barack Obama on Monday called the street vendor who may have saved the day in New York when he alerted police to a smoking vehicle. Times Square was evacuated when a failed bomb was found in the Nissan sport utility vehicle. 

Obama wanted to thank T-shirt vendor Duane Jackson for “his vigilance in alerting authorities,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.

Jackson, a Vietnam veteran, saw the suspicious vehicle parked awkwardly across the street and told police. Authorities are looking into the possibility that the failed bomb attack could have been coordinated by people with foreign ties, according to the Washington Post.

U.S. Ash Quest: Help 40,000 Americans cross the pond

Stranded in England…

(We could think of worse places to be stuck than the land of fish-and-chips and Shakespeare).

VOLCANO/That’s what happened to 40,000 Americans when their travel was disrupted due to the volcanic ash wafting over Europe from Iceland. But have no fear, the U.S. government is here.

(Not that it’s in any way a relevant comparison, but the number of Americans stranded in Britain is smaller than the Twitter followers of  White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs  who has 55,643 following @PressSec).

Latest Washington technique? Bipartisanship by sniping?

If bipartisanship is what they’re after … they’ve got a funny way of showing it.

Financial regulation reform is the latest struggle on Capitol Hill between the forces of Democrats and Republicans. And while everyone seems to be calling for bipartisanship, the words they’re using are quite simply snippy.

President Barack Obama had congressional leaders from both parties over to the White House today to chat about his goal of  financial regulatory reform to prevent another markets meltdown. USA/

Is McCain taking his toys and going home?


Is Republican Senator John McCain bringing playground  logic to Washington’s bitter partisan divide?

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs seems to think so.

McCain, defeated by President Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, vowed that Republicans furious after passage of Obama’s historic healthcare overhaul, will not work with Obama’s Democrats this year.

“There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year,” McCain told an Arizona radio program, criticizing the way Democrats steered the healthcare bill through Congress. “They have poisoned the well in what they have done and how they have done it.”

Healthcare bill signing: exuberance, exclamations, expletives

With all the giddiness over the signing of the hard-fought healthcare reform bill into law, Vice President Joe Biden might be forgiven for dropping the F-bomb in the ear of the President of the United States … on open mike.

Fox News caught it and now it’s on YouTube for all to hear.

You have to listen closely.

Right after Biden introduces President Barack Obama at the White House East Room bill signing event, when they’re shaking hands, Biden turns and whispers in Obama’s ear: “This is a big f—ing deal.” (Just to be clear, there’s a u, c, and k missing from the quote).

Slight laughter from Obama before saying “thank you everybody” and beginning his remarks to the Democrats gathered before him.

The White House Rose Garden strategy

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs succumbed to spring fever and held his daily news briefing out in the sun-splashed Rose Garden today.

OBAMA/A few dozen reporters and maybe a squirrel or two squinted their way through about an hour of Q and A with Gibbs, who advised that he had put on three layers of sunblock before exposing his pale skin to the sun.

“This will not be a regular thing. I just thought it’s been a long winter and why not get outside and have a little fun for once in a while,” he said.

Gibbs sports Canadian hockey jersey for briefing

Joking that a new “casual Friday” dress code had been instituted in the West Wing, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs showed up at the podium Friday wearing a Canadian hockey jersey to make good on a bet he had made with his counterpart in Canada.

OBAMA/Gibbs and Dimitri Soudas, spokesman for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, had a wager on the men’s hockey final, which Canada won 3-2 in overtime.

His jersey had a number 39 on it in honor of U.S. goalie Ryan Miller. He had promised to wear it for 15 minutes but took it off after about five to uncover the Team U.S.A. Hockey jersey underneath.

White House responds to naked House Democrat’s satanic tale


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.”

Obama fights off high cholesterol with stroll to White House

OBAMA/Barack Obama does not appear pleased that his cholesterol is borderline high.

The lanky U.S. president, who carries 180 pounds on a 6-foot-1-inch frame, got the word on Sunday that he needed to reduce his “bad” cholesterol levels from 138 to 130 through changes in his diet.

So the basketball-buff took a walk — from a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce back to the White House, a short distance away.

Joking with reporters who asked about his health while he strolled, Obama said he needed to work off  “some of that cholesterol,” a problem he seemed to blame on his diet during the 2008 presidential campaign.