Tales from the Trail

Baby buzz at OMB

Usually about this time of year we’re all wrapped up reporting about the expected White House budget proposal for the next fiscal year.

But today we’ve got a little different news out of the Office of Management and Budget.

USA/The White House budget director, Peter Orszag, has acknowledged that his ex-girlfriend gave birth to his daughter about six weeks ago, shortly before he became engaged in December to Bianna Golodryga, an ABC News correspondent.

Orszag had met Bianna at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner in May. Golodryga, 31, announced their engagement to a national television audience on her network’s show “Good Morning America.”

Here’s a joint statement issued by Orszag, 41, and Claire Milonas, 39.

“We were in a committed relationship until the spring of 2009. In November, Claire gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Although we are no longer together, we are both thrilled she is happy and healthy, and we would hope that everyone will respect her privacy,” they said.

Obama admits security “screw up,” but some wonder who’ll pay

President Barack Obama may have hoped to limit the political fallout from last month’s attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner by admitting there was a “screw up.” Will firings follow? Some think Obama’s unusually sharp rhetoric raises the odds that heads will roll.

One such observer is U.S. Rep. Peter King, an influential New York Republican.
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“If the situation is as bad as the president says it was, as far as so many dots not being connected, so many obvious mistakes being made … I would think once the president set that stage, that to show that he’s serious, someone will have to go now,” King told ABC’s Good Morning America.

But the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee says he can’t tell which official should pay because the Obama administration hasn’t let Congress know who did (or didn’t) do what, when.

Washington chatter: who loses job over security scares?

It’s the question ricocheting around Washington: which official gets to step down for family reasons or to pursue other opportunities after recent security scares?

USA/OBAMAThere was White House crasher-gate — the Salahis who sashayed into President Barack Obama’s first formal state dinner bedecked in red sari and tuxedo but missing one key item — an invitation.

Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan fell on his sword before Congress and shouldered the blame. White House social secretary Desiree Rogers was shielded from a public appearance on Capitol Hill by the White House.

First Lady proposes coup as Obama family finishes Hawaii vacation

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All good things must come to an end, including presidential vacations.

After several golf games, beach days and dinners out, President Barack Obama and his family are leaving Hawaii to head back to Washington and the waiting White House.

Unless First Lady Michelle Obama has anything to say about it,  that is.

“I’m trying to mount a coup,” Mrs. Obama joked to reporters about staying in the sunny island state. “Are we all in?”

The president may wish that coup had succeeded when he gets back to Washington on Monday. A debate about U.S. national security in the wake of the attempted  bombing of a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day awaits him upon his return.

Washington Irony Alert!

USA-WEATHER/SNOWSTORMWashington D.C. is usually known as a town that takes itself very seriously. You know, policy, politics, money, relieved by the occasional scandal. President Barack Obama appears to be doing his part to alleviate this metropolitan irony deficiency.

As morning TV showed closed airports, closed schools, snarled traffic and grumpy commuters and holiday travelers, there was video from the White House showing First Dog Bo frolicking in the snow left from a massive weekend storm.

But Obama didn’t stop there. His official schedule has him delivering remarks on making government more efficient and effective. Who doesn’t want that? It’s only slightly ironic that the federal government is closed today, thanks to the snow piled up all over the place, most notably on the city streets.

Obama feels at home in eye of winter storm

While the rest of Washington dug itself out of  the area’s most severe winter storm in years, the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue  found the deeply drifting snow much to their liking as it blanketed the White House.

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“I am from Chicago, so let me first say that with the place where I live covered with snow I’m finally starting to feel like home,” President Barack Obama told reporters for a hastily summoned White House statement on climate change and healthcare reform.
    
Up to 20 inches of snow is forecast for the capital area Saturday, sharply restricting travel as airlines canceled flights and public transport was shut down.
    
This also brings to mind Obama’s previous recommendation that the locals need to develop some mid-western fortitude toward the weather, after he complained Washingtonians need some “flinty Chicago toughness” after his two daughters’ school closed down after a 2-inch snowfall in January. 

Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed)

Is the recession over? Obama’s advisers differ

Is the economic recession over in the United States? It depends on who you ask, even among President Barack Obama’s advisers.

USA-FINANCE/SUMMERS“Today everyone agrees that the recession is over. And the questions are around how fast we’ll recover,” Larry Summers, the director of the National Economic Council, told CNN on Sunday.

But wait a minute. Not everyone agrees.

Senior White House economist Christina Romer, asked the same question on another television program, said “of course not.”

Will White House chef become Iron Chef?

BUSH CHEFWhite House executive chef Cristeta Comerford knows something about cooking under deadline pressure for high-profile events at the mansion on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Her skills were so renowned that Comerford — named executive chef by Laura Bush – was kept on by Michelle Obama.

Now she is going to face the ultimate test — a celebrity chef competition to air on the Food TV Network’s Iron Chef program on Jan. 3.

Inquisition begins over state dinner gatecrashing

Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan looked like he was having a bad day as he sat facing a firing USA/squad of lawmakers determined to find out how the vaunted Secret Service could allow uninvited guests into the White House and even into a receiving line to shake hands with President Barack Obama.

“I’ve asked myself that question a thousand times over this past week,” Sullivan told the House Homeland Security Committee when asked how Tareq and Michaele Salahi were allowed to talk their way into the White House for last week’s state dinner although they were not on the guest list.

“Do I like to see this? Believe me, we are beating ourselves up over this,” said Sullivan, who looked like he could use a good night’s sleep and seemed to have a 5 o’clock shadow even at 10 a.m.

The First Draft: White House takes a lonely road to openness on Crasher-gate

President Barack Obama’s senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, feels the White House doesn’t need Congress to help it maintain openness on the Crasher-gate scandal. That’s why it’s chosen to eschew the limelight of a Capitol Hill hearing today. USA/

“We think we’ve really answered the questions fully,” she told ABC’s Good Morning America, while making the TV rounds to defend a White House decision not to send its social secretary to explain how a Virginia couple got into last week’s state dinner without an invitation.

“Having a full review up on the (White House) Web site, where everyone in the country — anyone who goes on our Web site — can read it, is the definition of transparency.”