Tales from the Trail

First draft: No driving with the king this time

The last time Barack Obama saw Jordan’s King Abudullah, the monarch literally gave him a PORTUGAL/ride to the airport in Amman. That was before Obama was elected president, and the king shouldn’t expect a return of the favor during his visit to Washington today.

But Abdullah — the first Arab leader to hold face-to-face talks in the White House since Obama took office – has been invited to Obama’s personal dining room for a one-on-one meeting with the American president before a more formal gathering with aides in the Oval Office.

Abdullah is expected to lobby on behalf of Arab states for a stronger U.S. role in Middle East peacemaking, according to Jordanian palace officials.

On the economic front, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner heads to Capitol Hill this morning where he is likely to be grilled over his handling of the financial bailout program and his plans to purge problem assets from bank balance sheets.

His testimony comes after the government’s bailout watchdog said the U.S. Treasury’s plan to purge the toxic assets is vulnerable to fraud and abuse and needs tough rules against conflict of interest.

The First Draft: Packing day

It’s not a day to move house in Washington. The U.S. capital woke up to a face-stinging hypothermic cold that had early morning commuters walking just a little bit faster to get to the heated comfort of their offices.
 
But it’s packing day for the Bush administration. As White House staffers move out, ahead of President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration on Tuesday, President George W. Bush’s spokeswoman Dana Perino will give her last news conference.
 
Over at the State Department, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will attend a farewell ceremony closed to the press. It follows Bush’s televised farewell address to Americans on Thursday night in which he defended his record after eight tumultuous years in office. 
 
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Obama meanwhile says he is still tinkering with his inaugural address, but that there is a “good solid draft” that he is happy with. In an interview with USA Today, he rated the addresses given by Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“I will point out that JFK’s speech is the second best … Lincoln first. You know, FDR’s actually isn’t that great. It’s got a great line. `The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.` The rest is kind of clunky.”