Tales from the Trail

The First Draft: Wednesday, Jan. 7

USA-OBAMABarack Obama can expect questions about his plans to stimulate the flagging economy, his controversial choice of Leon Panetta for CIA chief and the war in Gaza at a mid-morning news conference.

Later, the president-elect lunches with President George W. Bush and all three living former presidents: Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter. A planned photo op in the White House Rose Garden before lunch seems likely to be a damp affair — cold rain expected for most of the day. Still, it’s better than weather elsewhere in the United States: reports of snow in the Northwest and ice in the Northeast led morning TV newscasts today.

On Capitol Hill, more wrangling over whether to seat Illinois’ Roland Burris, who was spectacularly turned away from the Senate floor on Tuesday. Already, a couple Democrats — Dianne Feinstein of California and reportedly Jim Clyburn of South Carolina — are breaking ranks and saying Burris should be allowed to take over Obama’s former seat. The fact that Burris was appointed by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is charged with earlier trying to sell the Senate seat, is at the heart of the controversy.

The Congressional Budget Office releases a new outlook for the economy and the budget deficit just before Obama’s news conference.

Reports that CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta – practicing neurosurgeon, former White House fellow and globe-trotting TV doc — is Obama’s choice for surgeon general prompted some ribbing from The Washington Post’s Style section, which suggested a whole “television cabinet.” The newspaper offered TV financial guru Suze Orman for Office of Management and Budget, mother-of-six Angelina Jolie as labor secretary, disaster correspondent Anderson Cooper to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency and talk empress Oprah Winfrey to helm the “Dept. of Oprah.”

from MediaFile:

Sanjay Gupta: He is a doctor AND he plays one on TV!

The Obama administration looks like it's getting a 3-for-1 deal in CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta if it really turns out to be true that he will be tapped for the new U.S. surgeon general: He's a celebrity, a journalist AND a doctor!

Here's Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post with the scoop:

President-elect Barack Obama has offered the job of surgeon general to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the neurosurgeon and correspondent for CNN and CBS, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.

Gupta has told administration officials that he wants the job, and the final vetting process is under way. He has asked for a few days to figure out the financial and logistical details of moving his family from Atlanta to Washington but is expected to accept the offer.