Tales from the Trail

Watch out for children, it’s Easter at the White House

Get ready for them. They’re coming. On Monday the White House lawn will be over-run with children for the annual Easter Egg Roll. This year’s theme is ”Let’s go play.”

Of course this year will have its differences as President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle continue to put their personal stamp on traditional White House events.

BUSH-EASTER/In an effort to diversify the crowd, the tickets were distributed online so families from far away had a better chance to attend.

 And there were a number of tickets set aside for “diverse communities” such as gay and lesbian parents (a White House spokesman didn’t know how many). Advocacy groups such as glaad called it a “historic first.”

In 2006, religious conservatives clashed with gay and lesbian groups planning to make a political point of attending the White House Easter Egg Roll. The Bush White House stayed out of the fray.

Check twice before clicking that “send” button

GENERIC BUSINESS PIXOops. The White House accidentally (we assume) sent out a seven-page “daily guidance and press schedule” for President Obama that included inside information.

The info — a chain of emails discussing wording of the guidance and schedule — wasn’t that exciting. But it did show the inner workings of the press office and how each word, even in something as mundane as the daily schedule, is scrutinized and debated.

One item of debate: the seder Obama was hosting to celebrate Passover.

One staff member suggested removing mention of the dinner, then another said it had already been announced the day before and the press would question its removal.

Giving up “House” for the White House

He escaped from Guantanamo, inhaled and went in search of White Castle burgers, journeyed in search of his Indian heritage, and then became a doctor (who committed suicide this week).

Now it’s time for a reality show on politics. Actor Kal Penn has landed a job at the White House where the pay isn’t as great as in Hollywood but the scenery is different.USA-OBAMA/

No one bats an eye any more at the jump from acting to politics given the history of President Ronald Reagan, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and former senator and presidential candidate Fred Thompson (who jumped back into acting).

First Draft: White House “victory garden”

USA/Spring blew into Washington this morning and the signs are everywhere: the cherry blossoms are starting to come out, magnolia trees are budding and at the White House, workers are digging up the lawn.

Um, what?

As it turns out, the Obamas are part of the local food movement and plan to grow veggies in a patch of lawn on the executive mansion grounds. This was front page news in The New York Times, and a big headline in The Washington Post’s well-read Style section.

Calling up memories of the “victory gardens” of World War II, when Americans were encouraged to grow their own produce to help the war effort, the White House garden is not a brand new idea. John Adams and Eleanor Roosevelt had gardens, while Woodrow Wilson had a flock of sheep and the Clintons grew some vegetables in pots on the White House roof.

Did you break something at the White House?

Somebody did. And Michelle Obama knows who you are.

Talking in a television interview about how her family is adjusting to life in the White House, the first lady said her young daughters Sasha and Malia had been behaving well in the grand house filled with antiques and historic artifacts.

“We’ve had some guests who’ve broken some things but not the kids,” she said with a laugh in the interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America”.  “And they know who they are.”

Obama said her daughters have “done their popping” in to see their dad at work in the Oval Office and have generally adjusted well to their new life in Washington.OBAMA/

Britain’s Brown probes Obama on possible tennis match

We all know that Barack Obama knows his way around the basketball court. He also has a decent golf swing. But what about tennis?

That is one of the things British Prime Minister Gordon Brown inquired about during his first visit to the Oval Office since Obama took over the presidency on Jan. 20. Tom Bradby of ITV News asked them how they found working with each other.

OBAMA/PRIME MINISTER BROWN: Yes, Tom, I’ve enjoyed every conversation that we’ve had, both on the telephone and when we’ve met. I don’t think I could ever compete with you at basketball — perhaps tennis.

British PM Brown goes to DC bearing gifts for Obama

By Sumeet Desai and Matt Spetalnick

With the British anxious about the state of their “special relationship” with the United States, Prime Minister Gordon Brown goes to Washington this week bearing gifts for President Barack Obama as reminders of that long transatlantic lovefest.

Brown, the first European leader to visit Obama since his Jan. 20 inauguration, will give him a first edition of Martin Gilbert’s seven-volume biography of Winston Churchill, whose World War Two partnership with Franklin Roosevelt epitomized the Anglo-American alliance.
The second gift will be a framed commissioning paper for HMS Resolute, a Royal Navy ship that became icebound in the Arctic in the early 1850s while searching in vain for British explorer John Franklin’s lost expedition that had been seeking a Northwest Passage to Asia.
An American whaler later found Resolute and it was freed from the ice and returned to Queen Victoria in 1856. In 1880, the British goverment, as a gesture of thanks, presented President Rutherford B. Hayes with a desk made from timbers of the ship, and ever since it has been used in the Oval Office by most presidents, including Obama. A replica figured as a plot device in the Hollywood thriller “National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets”, in which a secret compartment in the desk contained pieces of a clue.
At their White House talks on Tuesday, Brown also planned to give Obama a pen holder fashioned from the timber of HMS Gannet, a sister ship of the Resolute that also served for a time on anti-slavery missions off Africa.
The hope, it seems, is Obama will be reminded of America’s longstanding ties to Britain, which lost its 13 colonies after they rebelled against the Crown in 1776 but which later forged an alliance that spanned two world wars in the 20th century.
Brown wants to strengthen an alliance with Obama to combat the global financial crisis and reinforce London’s relationship with Washington. But there is growing concern in Britain that Washington’s attention is increasingly on Asia, with its growing economic clout, rather than Europe. 

There was no word, however, on what gift Obama might have in mind for his guest.
For more Reuters political news, click here

What’s the difference between Obama and Bush?

If you want to know if there’s a difference between working for President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush, ask the man who’s worked for both: Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Gates faced that question on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.


Gates, a former CIA official, first responded without really responding. “That sounds like the subject of a good book,” Gates said, and declined to say whether he plans to write one.

When pressed, the Pentagon chief said, “I think that probably President Obama is somewhat more analytical and we makes sure he hears from everybody in the room on an issue and if they don’t speak up, he calls on them.”

‘Restless soul’ Obama feeling cooped up at White House

He’s lived in the place for less than three weeks, but U.S. President Barack Obama is already feeling the constraints of the White House.
USA-OBAMA/After announcing a busy travel schedule for the president next week, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked if Obama was feeling cooped up at the executive mansion.
“It’s safe to say,” Gibbs said.
“Look, you know, some of you have covered him and some of you haven’t, but he’s a bit of a restless soul.  His idea of a crazy day is to take a long walk.”
Asked where Obama liked to walk, Gibbs said “in solitude and isolation.”
The president may get a little solitude and isolation on Saturday. He’s headed to the Camp David presidential retreat with his family.
After that he hits the road to push Congress to pass an economic stimulus package. He’s in Indiana on Monday, Florida on Tuesday and Illinois on Thursday.
For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Obama walks to Marine One at White House Thursday evening)

from Ask...:

Withdraw or stand their ground?

Tom Daschle doesn’t want to be a distraction. Nancy Killefer doesn’t want to be a distraction. Timothy Geithner has already been a distraction.

What these three high-profile nominees to President Obama’s White House have in common, besides not wanting to be distractions, is that they apparently don’t know how to do their taxes. Daschle, the former senator and Obama’s choice for health secretary, and Killefer, a former assistant Treasury secretary and nominee to oversee the government’s budget, have withdrawn their nominations because of tax indiscretions. Geithner has been confirmed but his path to the top of Treasury was also marred by tax troubles that some fear may come back to haunt him.

Besides begging the question why do smart people not know how to do their taxes, it also throws a shadow over Obama’s quest to have a fast, smooth transition to power.