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Framed by the marble memorial to Abraham Lincoln and facing a crowd of more than half a million people, Barack Obama delivered a message of hope last night declaring: ‘Anything is possible in America.’

The President-elect was speaking at last night’s conclusion to Washington’s star-studded ‘We Are One’ concert featuring a string of superstar supporters including Bruce Springsteen, U2, Beyonce and Stevie Wonder.

Two days before he takes office as the first black US president, Mr Obama underscored the challenge ahead, saying: ‘Only a handful of generations have been asked to confront challenges as serious as the ones we face right now.’

Beyonce Knowles performs America the Beautiful flanked by stars (from left to right) Jon Bon Jovi, Marisa Tomei, Shakira, Bono, Betty LaVette and Stevie Wonder

Beyonce Knowles performs America the Beautiful flanked by stars (from left to right) Jon Bon Jovi, Marisa Tomei, Shakira, Bono, Betty LaVette and Stevie Wonder

Barack Obama, wife Michelle and daughter Sasha - pictured with Vice President elect Joe Biden and wife Jill - wave to the crowd through bulletproof glass

Barack Obama, wife Michelle and daughter Sasha - pictured with Vice President elect Joe Biden and wife Jill - wave to the crowd through bulletproof glass

But despite an economy in crisis and a war being fought on two fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said he is ‘as hopeful as ever’.

‘Despite the enormity of the task that lies ahead – I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure – that the dream of our founders will live on in our time,’ he added.

The huge party on the National Mall – which also included Vice-President Joe Biden, actor Tom Hanks and golfer Tiger Woods as speakers – kicked off a dizzying round of lavish balls, concerts and celebrations to mark Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony.

Crowds gather at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C. for the opening ceremony of Mr Obama's inauguration

Bird's eye view: Crowds gather at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C. for the opening ceremony of Mr Obama's inauguration

Barack Obama speaks in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the inaugural celebration

Barack Obama speaks in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the inaugural celebration

The inauguration has also seen the biggest security operation in history being mobilised.

Washington D.C. is being turned into a fortress city with a 45,000-strong force of police, soldiers and secret service officials.

As the first black President prepares to take office, security chiefs were planning for a range of potential assassination scenarios, from a lone gunman to a terrorist attack.

But for a few days at least, the nation’s worst economic slide since the Great Depression was being glossed over in a marathon of spectacle and tradition that dwarfs any past Inauguration Day festivities.

However there was growing unease last night that the estimated £100million bill for the array of events will be just as historic as Mr Obama’s ascent to the White House.

The grandeur of the presidential coronation has some senior Republicans suggesting the incoming Commander-in-Chief has misread the country’s mood.

U2's Bono, right, and The Edge perform In the Name of Love

U2's Bono, right, and The Edge perform In the Name of Love

Shakira and Usher join Stevie Wonder on Higher Ground

Shakira and Usher join Stevie Wonder on Higher Ground

While the capital came alive with excitement on the eve of the inauguration, the rest of the US remains weighed down with problems at home and abroad.

Mr Obama confronted those fears head-on in his rousing speech last night, saying: ‘Our nation is at war, our economy is in crisis. Millions of Americans are losing their jobs and their homes.

‘I won’t pretend that meeting any one of these challenges will be easy,’ he added. ‘It will take more than a month or a year, and it will likely take many. Along the way there will be setbacks and false starts and days that test our resolve as a nation.’

But he said he had faith in a nation that was at its best in times of trial.

The President-elect has been trying to walk a delicate line by mixing celebrity-studded parties like last night’s concert featuring superstar supporters like U2, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen and Beyonce with more statesman-like appearances.

Mr & Mrs Obama get down to the music during Bruce Springsteen's rendition of The Rising

Singalong: Mr & Mrs Obama get down to the music during Bruce Springsteen's rendition of The Rising

Pete Seeger, centre, and his grandson Tao, left, perform with Bruce Springsteen on This Land is Your Land

Pete Seeger, centre, and his grandson Tao, left, perform with Bruce Springsteen on This Land is Your Land

He kicked off with a train journey on Saturday from Philadelphia to Washington echoing George Washington’s ride from Mount Vernon to New York, where the US capital was then located.

Yesterday, a sombre Mr Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb Of The Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery on the Virginia side of the Potomac River before going with his family to the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington, where he and his family were greeted with an ovation.

Mr Obama plans to lead commemorations for slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King today, a national holiday in the US in memory of the iconic churchman who was assassinated in 1968, five years after his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

Thousands of people braved the cold to listen to Barack Obama

Thousands of people braved the cold to listen to Barack Obama

article-1121423-031aec00000005dc-312_634x353

It is a poignant anniversary for Mr Obama, who declared it a day of national service and he plans to visit residents living in some of Washington’s poorest suburbs.

Last night, wife, Michelle and daughters Malia, ten, and seven-year-old Sasha joined him at the free inauguration concert attended by a crowd of up to half a million people.

Among the speakers was Martin Luther King III, the son of the civil rights hero, who introduced a video clip of President John F.Kennedy’s famous ‘ask not’ inauguration address.

Last night’s crowd is expected to grow to an unprecedented two million for the Inauguration Day events on the steps of the US Capitol building – more than double the number for any previous president taking the oath.

Actor Tom Hanks speaks during the celebration

Actor Tom Hanks speaks during the celebration

Mr Obama embraces Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington

Mr Obama embraces Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington

After a giant parade from the Capitol to the White House, the new president will attend at least ten glitzy official balls around the city, with all eyes on the First Lady’s fashions.

‘No-one is begrudging the president a celebration to mark this watershed event, but people struggling to keep their homes are going to be looking at this and wondering what is going on,’ said one senior Republican analyst.

After George Bush’s election victory in 2004, Democrats urged him to be frugal, pointing to President Roosevelt’s 1945 inauguration when he made a short speech and served guests ‘cold chicken salad and plain pound cake’.

During World War I, President Wilson cancelled all parties marking the beginning of his term in 1917, saying festivities would be ‘undignified’.

Actor Samuel L Jackson addresses the crowd

Actor Samuel L Jackson addresses the crowd

But Mr Obama’s inauguration committee says it doesn’t believe Americans will consider the celebrations excessive.

‘That is probably not the way the country is going to be looking at it,’ said committee spokeswoman Linda Douglass.

‘It is not a celebration of an election. It is a celebration of our common values.’

Stephen Hess, a fellow of the Brookings Institute in Washington, said Americans have always loved a party.

‘We broke away from the Brits and we had something to celebrate then, and we’ve really never stopped celebrating,’ he said.

Mr Obama greets actor Jamie Foxx as singer John Mellencamp and comedian Steve Carell look on

Mr Obama greets actor Jamie Foxx as singer John Mellencamp and comedian Steve Carell look on

‘If anything, Americans need reason to celebrate even more during tough times.

‘That’s why movies starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were so popular during the Great Depression, just to name one example. People need an escape, they deserve a good celebration, and Barack Obama’s inauguration more than any other gives people a great reason to celebrate,’ he added.

Adding to the price tag is the cost of a massive security operation.

More than 40,000 police, soldiers and Secret Service staff have been given the task of keeping the new president safe. While officials say they haven’t received any credible threats, they aren’t leaving anything to chance.

Organisers even have an army brigade ready to respond to a chemical and biological attack.

Actor Forest Whitaker (left) and golfer Tiger Woods also took the podium

Actor Forest Whitaker (left) and golfer Tiger Woods also took the podium

Actor Forest Whitaker (left) and golfer Tiger Woods also took the podium

Actor Forest Whitaker (left) and golfer Tiger Woods also took the podium

Mr Obama’s inaugural committee has raised about £30 million towards the cost of staging events like last night’s show and they were paid an additional £3 million for the exclusive TV rights to screen last night’s concert and another tonight starring teen stars Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers.

But most of the rest of the costs – including security and transportation – are being covered by the taxpayer.

Although he may not get to bed before 3am after the inaugural balls, Mr Obama plans to make Wednesday, his first full day as President.

He will start Wednesday at Washington’s National Cathedral for the National Prayer Service, which dates to George Washington’s time.

Then he will have to return to the serious business of running the country.

Sheryl Crow teamed up with will.i.am and Herbie Hancock to perform Bob Marley's One Love

Sheryl Crow teamed up with will.i.am and Herbie Hancock to perform Bob Marley's One Love

Mary J Blige and James Taylor also performed at the historic event

Mary J Blige and James Taylor also performed at the historic event

Mary J Blige and James Taylor also performed at the historic event

Mary J Blige and James Taylor also performed at the historic event

Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas was in the crowd, and Oscar winner Queen Latifah spoke from the podium

Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas was in the crowd, and Oscar winner Queen Latifah spoke from the podium

Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas was in the crowd, and Oscar winner Queen Latifah spoke from the podium

Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas was in the crowd, and Oscar winner Queen Latifah spoke from the podium

Source: Daily Mail

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KAILUA, Hawaii – He’s not the commander in chief yet, but was President-elect Barack Obama briefly practicing his salute on Sunday?

On the first morning of his vacation here, Mr. Obama arrived at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii for his daily workout. As he walked out of the Semper Fit Center, his gray T-shirt soaked in sweat, he lifted his right hand and gave a quick salute to two Marines in fatigues who were standing in the distance.

The brief moment was not captured by cameras. Photographs and video were not permitted to be taken on the military base, according to campaign aides.

Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, opened their day with a 45-minute workout inside a large gymnasium at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, which is located on the Mokapu Penninsula on the windward side of Oahu, about 30 minutes outside Honolulu. It is sunny and warm here, a world away, at least in terms of the weather, from Chicago.

The Marine base seemed sleepy when the motorcade rolled through shortly after 7 a.m. Home to the 3rd Marine Regiment, Marine Aircraft Group 24 and the 3rd Radio Battalion, the base is located only a few minutes from where the Obamas are staying, a rented home at the end of a series of cul-de-sacs (and security barricades) along Kailuana Place.

Mr. Obama, who arrived to his native Hawaii on Saturday afternoon, is taking a 13-day holiday vacation with his family and a few friends from Chicago. At least some work, though, followed him to Hawaii.

He is receiving his daily national security briefing and his transition team is scheduled on Monday or Tuesday to release an internal review of any contacts between his advisers and the Illinois governor’s office over filling his vacant Senate seat. That is the subject of a corruption case and federal investigation into Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich.

Mr. Obama is not expected to address the inquiry, but rather have it released through a written statement from Washington.

The president-elect, after filling his Cabinet in record-setting pace, is taking a break. On tap for the rest of his Sunday? An afternoon tee-time and 18 holes of golf.

Source: Caucus

AP Raw Video: Obamas Hand Out Turkeys

The Obama girls will be the youngest kids to live in the White House in decades.

The Obama girls will be the youngest kids to live in the White House in decades.

As incoming President Barack Obama ponders economic-bailout plans in the Oval Office, some pretty heavy action will be taking place in the private quarters of the White House, too.

Malia and Sasha Obama, ages 10 and 7, respectively, are the youngest children to inhabit the White House in decades. And they will be facing some seismic challenges of their own, in child-development terms. The Obama girls will pass from childhood into the upheaval of the pre-teen and early teenage years in a venue that past presidential kid Luci Johnson termed a “museum, a public fishbowl and a prison.”

The loss of privacy, continuity and constancy imposed by their move to the White House — coupled with the monumental new opportunities it offers — will have a huge impact on the Obama children’s sense of identity and competence at a critical stage, child-development experts say. While the glare of the spotlight has burned some presidential kids, others have emerged unscathed and strong. A look at the risks and rewards, based on research and past examples, holds lessons for any parent raising children under unusual stress.

Malia and Sasha are facing some core “developmental tasks,” in child-development parlance: the need to build their own sense of personal identity, or their concept of who they are in relation to others and the world at large, and their belief in their competence as individuals. These growth stages must be accomplished in an ever-widening context of friendships, school, the neighborhood and the world at large.

The Obamas, child-development experts say, seem to be a picture of health, based on the deep affection and easy communication family members displayed last July in their only video interview together. Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, have vowed to hold life as steady as possible for the girls, and are taking grandmother Marian Robinson to Washington to help.

Read on…

barack-obama-dropping-his-daughters-malia-and-sasha-at-their-private-school-in-chicago-they-will-attend-sidwell-friends-school-in-washington

WASHINGTON — After a school search that set off weeks of frenzied speculation among parents here, President-elect Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, announced Friday that their two daughters would attend Sidwell Friends School, the prestigious academy that has educated generations of this city’s elite.

The Quaker-run Sidwell, which was established in 1883, has educated the children of at least three presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton. And there was an added bonus: grandchildren of Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who are friendly with the Obama girls, attend Sidwell.

The Obama family had considered two other private institutions, Georgetown Day School and Maret School, for their girls, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.

But Sidwell has long been described by some as the Harvard of Washington’s private schools. Its tuition runs as high as $29,442 a year.

“A number of great schools were considered,” said Katie McCormick Lelyveld, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Obama. “In the end, the Obamas selected the school that was the best fit for what their daughters need right now.”

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty of Washington strongly lobbied the Obamas to consider a public school, but that was apparently never an option.

The Obama girls currently attend private school, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, where annual tuition runs as high as $21,480, and the family did not tour any public schools on their recent visits.

Since Election Day, guessing which school the Obamas would choose became one of affluent Washington’s most popular parlor games.

Camera crews staked out the schools in hopes of a glimpse of Mrs. Obama (who visited Sidwell and Georgetown Day twice) and the girls (who visited schools once this week). Parents hotly debated the merits of each.

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Harvard Law

Harvard Law

By DAVID BROOKS

Jan. 20, 2009, will be a historic day. Barack Obama (Columbia, Harvard Law) will take the oath of office as his wife, Michelle (Princeton, Harvard Law), looks on proudly. Nearby, his foreign policy advisers will stand beaming, including perhaps Hillary Clinton (Wellesley, Yale Law), Jim Steinberg (Harvard, Yale Law) and Susan Rice (Stanford, Oxford D. Phil.).

The domestic policy team will be there, too, including Jason Furman (Harvard, Harvard Ph.D.), Austan Goolsbee (Yale, M.I.T. Ph.D.), Blair Levin (Yale, Yale Law), Peter Orszag (Princeton, London School of Economics Ph.D.) and, of course, the White House Counsel Greg Craig (Harvard, Yale Law).

This truly will be an administration that looks like America, or at least that slice of America that got double 800s on their SATs. Even more than past administrations, this will be a valedictocracy — rule by those who graduate first in their high school classes. If a foreign enemy attacks the United States during the Harvard-Yale game any time over the next four years, we’re screwed.

Already the culture of the Obama administration is coming into focus. Its members are twice as smart as the poor reporters who have to cover them, three times if you include the columnists. They typically served in the Clinton administration and then, like Cincinnatus, retreated to the comforts of private life — that is, if Cincinnatus had worked at Goldman Sachs, Williams & Connolly or the Brookings Institution. So many of them send their kids to Georgetown Day School, the posh leftish private school in D.C. that they’ll be able to hold White House staff meetings in the carpool line.

And yet as much as I want to resent these overeducated Achievatrons (not to mention the incursion of a French-style government dominated by highly trained Enarchs), I find myself tremendously impressed by the Obama transition.

The fact that they can already leak one big appointee per day is testimony to an awful lot of expert staff work. Unlike past Democratic administrations, they are not just handing out jobs to the hacks approved by the favored interest groups. They’re thinking holistically — there’s a nice balance of policy wonks, governors and legislators. They’re also thinking strategically. As Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute notes, it was smart to name Tom Daschle both the head of Health and Human Services and the health czar. Splitting those duties up, as Bill Clinton did, leads to all sorts of conflicts.

Most of all, they are picking Washington insiders. Or to be more precise, they are picking the best of the Washington insiders.

Obama seems to have dispensed with the romantic and failed notion that you need inexperienced “fresh faces” to change things. After all, it was L.B.J. who passed the Civil Rights Act. Moreover, because he is so young, Obama is not bringing along an insular coterie of lifelong aides who depend upon him for their well-being.

Read on…

In this Nov. 10, 2008 file photo, Sasha Obama and Malia Obama, the children of President-elect Barack Obama, not pictured, walk to school after their father dropped them off in Chicago. Malia and Sasha are in Washington with their mother checking out new schools. AP

In this Nov. 10, 2008 file photo, Sasha Obama and Malia Obama, the children of President-elect Barack Obama, not pictured, walk to school after their father dropped them off in Chicago. Malia and Sasha are in Washington with their mother checking out new schools. AP

WASHINGTON — Malia and Sasha Obama are in Washington with their mother checking out prospective new schools.

Michelle Obama brought 7-year-old Sasha and 10-year-old Malia to visit the future first family’s top choices, her spokeswoman Katie McCormick Lelyveld said Tuesday. She would not name the schools.

“She brought the girls to visit choices for their new schools to make sure they find the right fit,” she said. “Their move to Washington is her top priority.”

A small motorcade was parked at the back entrance of Georgetown Day School on Monday afternoon, with a few Secret Service agents standing around. The motorcade left after a group of people emerged, but Michelle Obama was not seen among them.

When asked if Michelle Obama had visited the school that day, some parents and students said they did not know. Other students who appeared to be in middle school said that they were not allowed to answer reporters’ questions.

The Obamas were expected to tour Sidwell Friends on Tuesday. Officials at both schools did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The soon-to-be first lady visited both elite schools last week, without her daughters, when she also toured the White House with first lady Laura Bush.

Georgetown Day, founded in 1945, was an early pioneer in integration and prides itself on its diversity. A report posted on the school’s Web site says about 35 percent of its estimated 1,000 students are of color.

Sidwell Friends is a private Quaker school that Chelsea Clinton attended.

The president-elect’s family has also discussed public school options for the two girls, Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty and Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee said last week.

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2/4 Barack and Michelle Obama on 60 Minutes

3/4 Barack and Michelle Obama on 60 Minutes

4/4 Barack and Michelle Obama on 60 Minutes

Valerie Jarrett is one of Barack Obama's closest advisers.

Valerie Jarrett is one of Barack Obama

(CNN) — Two Democratic sources close to President-elect Barack Obama tell CNN that top adviser Valerie Jarrett will not be appointed to replace him in the U.S. Senate.

“While he (Obama) thinks she would be a good senator, he wants her in the White House,” one top Obama advisor told CNN Monday.

Over the weekend, Democratic sources had told CNN as well as Chicago television station WLS-TV that Jarrett was Obama’s choice to fill his Senate seat.

Jarrett, a Chicago attorney and one of Obama’s closest advisers, is a leader of the president-elect’s transition team.

Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the incoming White House chief of staff, praised her as a “valuable ally.”

“People should know that Valerie Jarrett is — and people do know — she is a very dear friend of the president-elect and a valuable ally of his, not only prior to running for president, in his Senate life, and just personally for Michelle and Barack,” Emanuel said on ABC’s This Week.

Valerie Jarrett Obama’s secret campaign weapon:

Several other Illinois Democrats have expressed interest in the seat, including Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich will make the final decision on Obama’s successor.

Source: CNN

11-10-2008-6-54-57-pm

Barack Obama has arrived at the White House. The President-elect and wife Michelle Obama was met by President Bush and wife Laura Bush.

Michelle wore a red dress ~ perhaps one of her favorite or perhaps lucky colors. Tiger Woods usually wears red on the last day of golf games.

11-10-2008-6-55-10-pm

President Bush and Barack Obama walk separately along the colonnade towards to Oval Room for their discussion. 11-10-2008-7-04-34-pm

11-10-2008-6-54-10-pm

Senator Barack Obama, greeting President Bush at the White House in February 2005.

Senator Barack Obama, greeting President Bush at the White House in February 2005.

WASHINGTON — For nearly two years on the campaign trail, Senator Barack Obama rarely missed a chance to take a swipe at President Bush. The name George W. Bush invariably followed the phrase “failed policies” in Mr. Obama’s speeches. “When George Bush steps down,” Mr. Obama once declared, “the world is going to breathe a sigh of relief.”

Ronald and Nancy Reagan, right, and President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in 1980.
On Monday, Mr. Obama, Democrat of Illinois, may find himself conveniently forgetting those words — or at least delicately stepping around the fact that he had said them. As the president-elect, he will be welcomed at the White House as an honored guest of its current occupant, Mr. Bush, for a meeting that could be as awkward as it is historic.

In a time-honored tradition of American democracy, Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, will receive a tour of their new home from Mr. Bush and the first lady, Laura Bush. Then the men will split off to begin the formal transfer of power, all the more urgent this year because of the financial crisis. Mr. Obama has said he expects a “substantive conversation between myself and the president.”

But there will also be a subtext to the session: the personal chemistry between two leaders whose worldviews are miles apart. The ritual visit is occurring uncommonly early this year, less than a week after Mr. Obama handily defeated Senator John McCain of Arizona, who was the Republican nominee and Mr. Bush’s preferred candidate. Emotions may still be raw.

“I’m not going to anticipate problems,” Mr. Obama said Friday at his first news conference as president-elect. “I’m going to go in there with a spirit of bipartisanship.”

Mr. Bush, the president-elect, visiting with President Bill Clinton at the White House in 2000.

Mr. Bush, the president-elect, visiting with President Bill Clinton at the White House in 2000.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama have had little chance to forge the kind of personal relationship that might prompt a smooth handoff. In his book, “The Audacity of Hope,” Mr. Obama wrote less than admiringly of his first face-to-face encounter with the president, at a White House breakfast for new senators after the 2004 election, where Mr. Bush outlined his second-term agenda.

“The president’s eyes became fixed; his voice took on the agitated, rapid tone of someone neither accustomed to nor welcoming interruption; his easy affability was replaced by an almost messianic certainty,” Mr. Obama wrote. “As I watched my mostly Republican Senate colleagues hang on his every word, I was reminded of the dangerous isolation that power can bring.”

Mr. Bush, meanwhile, was privately critical of Mr. Obama during the 2008 Democratic primary race, telling friends that he thought Mr. Obama’s chief rival for the party’s nomination, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, was “more experienced and more ready to be president,” said one friend of Mr. Bush’s who had such a conversation. But Mr. Obama ran a good campaign — Mr. Bush is someone who appreciates that — and the election last week might have eased his doubts.

“President Bush is a realist,” said this friend, who spoke anonymously to disclose his private conversation with the president. “He has a way of coming to grips with things and moving on. The people have spoken.”

For Mr. Bush, the meeting has a distinct upside: the chance to take the edge off his unpopularity. Democrats are already praising him as gracious for his post-election speech in the Rose Garden, where he said it would be a “stirring sight” to see the Obama family move into the White House. The meeting on Monday will give Mr. Bush an opportunity to produce lasting images of that graciousness.

“The important thing he gets out of it,” the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said, “is a public perception of him as somebody who is leaving in classy fashion, by opening his house and his information and his government. He wants to leave on a note that says he did everything possible to help this next president run the country.”

But such meetings can be fraught with political and personal danger. On Inauguration Day in 2001, President Bill Clinton invited Mr. Bush for coffee before the ceremony but kept his ever-punctual successor waiting for 10 minutes, recalled Mr. Bush’s first press secretary, Ari Fleischer. Even more uncomfortable was the presence of Vice President Al Gore, who lost the presidential election to Mr. Bush after a bitterly contested Florida recount.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan, right, and President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in 1980.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan, right, and President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in 1980.

“Clinton was his normal gregarious self, but Vice President Gore was not a happy camper,” Mr. Fleischer said. “I think it was a very sour moment for him, and you could kind of feel it in the room.”

In 1980, after President Jimmy Carter lost his re-election bid to Ronald Reagan, the two met at the White House. Mr. Carter came away feeling that Mr. Reagan had not been paying attention.

“President Carter was kind of taken aback by the meeting with Reagan,” said Jody Powell, Mr. Carter’s former press secretary. “There was a point where he sort of wandered off and asked questions that seemed to be only tangentially related to what they were talking about.”

And though the Carter White House had offered to share information about efforts to end the Iranian hostage crisis, Mr. Powell said, “My impression was that they wanted us to handle it without them being involved enough to have to take responsibility for whatever happened.”

So, too, may it be with Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama over the economy. Mr. Bush has invited world leaders to Washington on Friday and Saturday for an international conference on the economy. Mr. Obama and his team have declined to attend. Mr. Obama supports a new economic stimulus package; the Bush White House is cool to that idea.

The White House says Mr. Obama has been there seven times during Mr. Bush’s tenure, most recently in September for a much-publicized meeting on the $700 billion financial rescue package. That session blew up when House Republicans, backed by Mr. McCain, balked at the plan. Curiously enough, Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush were on the same side.

Perhaps Mr. Obama will remind Mr. Bush of that when he sees him on Monday. Or perhaps he will remind Mr. Bush of another encounter, at a White House reception in January 2005 when, according to Mr. Obama’s book, the affable president offered a dollop of hand sanitizer — “Not wanting to seem unhygienic,” Mr. Obama wrote, “I took a squirt” — and then pulled him aside for some unsolicited political advice.

“You’ve got a bright future, very bright,” Mr. Bush began, by Mr. Obama’s account. The president went on to warn the new senator that his celebrity status could hurt him: “Everybody’ll be waiting for you to slip, know what I mean? So watch yourself.”

nyt-logoprinter

WASHINGTON – It popped out casually, a throwaway line as he talked to reporters about finding the right puppy for his young daughters.

But with just three offhanded words in his first news conference as president-elect, Barack Obama reminded everyone how thoroughly different his administration — and inevitably, this country — will be.

Obama

“Mutts like me.”

By now, almost everyone knows that Obama’s mother was white and father was black, putting him on track to become the nation’s first African-American president. But there was something startling, and telling, about hearing his self-description — particularly in how offhandedly he used it.

The message seemed clear — here is a president who will be quite at ease discussing race, a complex issue as unresolved as it is uncomfortable for many to talk about openly. And at a time when whites in the country are not many years from becoming the minority.

Obama made the remark as he revealed his thinking in what is becoming one of the highest-profile issues of this transition period: What kind of puppy will he and his wife, Michelle, get for their daughters as they move into the White House.

Because Malia, 10, has allergies, the family wants a low-allergy dog. But Obama said they also want to adopt a puppy from an animal shelter, which could make it harder to find a breed that wouldn’t aggravate his daughter’s problem.

“Obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me,” Obama said with a smile. “So whether we’re going to be able to balance those two things, I think, is a pressing issue on the Obama household.”

In his first postelection news conference, the man who will be president in just over two months described himself as a mutt as casually as he may have poked fun at his jump shot.

If he thought nothing of such a remark in his first news conference, doesn’t that signal that over the next four years, the country is likely to hear more about race from the White House — and from the perspective of a black man — than it ever has before?

It’s not necessarily that he will make a crusade about the issue once he takes office. There was little sign of that in his election campaign, in which he ran on issues like the economy with a broad appeal to all Americans.

But it does underscore that the president-elect clearly does not see race as a subject best sidestepped or discussed in hushed tones. To Obama, race in all its complications has long been a defining part of his life, and he is comfortable talking about it.

The timing seems fortuitous. Obama will be sworn in as the country is rapidly becoming more racially diverse. The latest government projections indicate that by 2042, white people will make up less than half the nation’s population.

Blacks have been elected to local and statewide office in growing numbers in recent years, a sign that the country is becoming more tolerant. Obama lost the white vote to Republican John McCain by 12 percentage points, according to exit polls of voters — a better showing than Democrat John Kerry’s 17-point deficit with whites four years ago.

Still, a conversation about race over the next four years that is more open and explicit than the country has ever heard from its president can’t be bad, can it?

Obama’s comment was all the more noteworthy coming from a man who just ended a presidential campaign in which he stayed relentlessly on-message and made few comments that could be hurled against him. This is a man who can limit himself to saying exactly what he wants to say — usually.

One remark that did haunt him came during his long-running primary campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton. Speaking at a private fundraiser in San Francisco, Obama said some residents of depressed rural areas get bitter and “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.”

Eager to avoid slips like that in the campaign’s closing days, Obama usually avoided reporters and seldom departed from prepared remarks.

At his news conference Friday, Obama seemed less guarded. But that led to another eyebrow-raising moment.

Obama told reporters that he has turned for advice to all “living” former presidents. But he then joked, “I didn’t want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances.”

The former first lady actually has not been linked to conversations with the dead. President Reagan’s former chief of staff, Donald Regan, did write that she set her husband’s schedule with the help of an astrologist.

Obama called Mrs. Reagan late Friday to apologize.

Ironically, Obama’s remarks came just a day after Italy’s Premier Silvio Berlusconi, in an apparent joke, described Obama as “young, handsome and even tanned.” Critics called the comment racist, while Berlusconi defended it as a compliment.

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Like Ohio, Florida, New Mexico and Virginia did Tuesday night, John McCain’s sole holdout on “The View” has flipped sides. Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s now for Barack Obama.

The conservative co-host, who supported McCain through many a heated coffee-table debate during the 2008 election, revealed today that she fully backs the president-elect.

“View” creator Barbara Walters turned to Hasselbeck in the first few minutes of the show and said, “All eyes are gonna be on you. How do you feel?”

The 31-year-old mother of two launched into a story about how her daughter Grace had asked her who lost the election after watching Obama’s victory speech:

“I said, ‘You know what Grace, no one lost today.’ … Today is a victory for this country, the first black president, the first black first lady — family, to have the amount of voters. … Fourteen million more voters in this election than the last, present themselves and vote for their country. Today is victory. I haven’t felt this good through the entire election process.”

Joy Behar, Hasselbeck’s frequent foil, then took the opportunity to gloat — “are you saying I was right all along?” — before offering the blonde a handshake. Hasselbeck responded with a fist bump.

“The power that he has,” she said. “I will get in a long line of supporters because I wasn’t the first, but I will jump in that line and support our president because as an American, that is what I believe we should do.”

CNN International


Darth Cheney appeared our of the darkness of his undisclosed location – to endorse the new Sith Lord McCain who he hoped would be his loyal successor and work to expand the Dark Empire he worked hard to create.

Looking out onto the Kingdom Sith McCain and Darth Cheney – the two agreed that his Empire should continue – under the directive of the war without end doctrine – in order to bring all the known world and its important resources under their control ~ nothing they thought could stop them now.

There were no limitations on their desire for power and control by – war baby war – success was at hand. But their plan was missing one thing they had to unite the world, around their dark vision and they needed one person – an Obama Skywalker.

Meantime dark ideas had already infiltrated the Senate – and the plan to take it over and to undermine democracy – in the name of restoring order and maintaining security was complete.

The very powers of the Senate – through deception – were used to steal democracy. And no one could stop it.

And a new power – the power of the dark side – was soon unleashed.

The world looked very different as there would be no peace for 100 years.

All was well in the outer-lands – but little known to Obama Skywalker – he was about to enter the battle and restore order to the force. His first encounter with the Dark Lord McCain was at hand – after his home was destroyed – he began his Jedi training.

Trust your feelings Barack, said his sage trainer – in the ways of the force.

As the Emperor’s forces drew closer and destruction seemed complete Obama Skywalker went into training with one of the greatest sages of all.

Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.

Obama learned that the restoration of the good side of the force lay with him.

Later in the cave – Obama Skywalker was tested. 

Will he finish what he begins?”
“I won’t fail you. I’m not afraid.”
“Oh, you will be. You will be.

Sith McCain was so confident in his vision – he tried to get in Barack the Jedi to join with him on the dark side.  

Lord McCain said something like ‘ I am your father ‘

Naturally Obama Skywalker said that this was impossible and that he would never join him – that he would never move to the dark side. And the fight for Skywalker’s surrender began.

Realizing that the force was strong with Obama Skywalker and he would be a threat to the Empire – if he would not come over to the dark side – Darth Cheney – sought to teach – this insignificant one – a lesson.

In the end with his last shred of humanity, seeing that his own son would be destroyed, he took on Darth Cheney and saved Obama Skywalker, saying something like ‘ tell the voters you were right ‘ ‘ you were right.’ 

Once order was restored – there was music and celebrations throughout all the lands – as the battle for the good and the betterment of mankind and over the dark side’s war without end for control of power and resourses – had been won.

WASHINGTON – In the final weekend of a long race for the White House, Barack Obama promised to heal America’s political divisions while rival John McCain fought to hold on to Republican-leaning states and pledged to score an upset.

For Obama, buoyed by record campaign donations and encouraging poll numbers, it was a time for soaring rhetoric and forays into Republican territory. “We have a righteous wind at our back,” the Democrat said Saturday.

McCain saw the weekend as a final opportunity to persuade voters to prove the polls and pundits wrong and sweep him into office.

“We’re a few points down but we’re coming back,” he told supporters in Virginia.

Obama campaigned Saturday in Nevada, Colorado and Missouri, all states that voted for President Bush four years ago, while McCain struggled to keep Virginia from voting for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since 1964.

McCain also made a quick sidetrip to New York City and an appearance on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” where he joked about his campaign and his latest plan to win over voters.

“I thought I might try a strategy called the reverse maverick. That’s where I’d do whatever anybody tells me,” McCain said. If that failed, he quipped, “I’d go to the double maverick. I’d just go totally berserk and freak everybody out.”

Both men appealed to supporters to turn out on Election Day, saying the stakes could scarcely be higher.

“If you give me your vote on Tuesday, we won’t just win this election — together, we will change this country and change the world,” Obama said in a nationwide Democratic radio address.

Vice President Dick Cheney endorsed McCain, saying Americans “cannot afford the high tax liberalism of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.”

Obama, campaigning in Colorado, pounced on the remark, saying McCain had earned the endorsement through supporting the Bush administration’s failed social and economic policies.

“Bush and Cheney have dug a deep hole,” Obama said. “Now they’re trying to hand the shovel to McCain.”

An Associated Press-Yahoo News national poll of likely voters showed Obama ahead, 51 to 43, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. McCain’s campaign says its internal polling shows the gap closing.

It’s always nice to see Michelle Obama.

Karl Rove and President Bush in a moment of emotion in August 2007 after Mr. Rove announced that he was leaving the post of White House political adviser to Mr. Bush.

Karl Rove and President Bush in a moment of emotion in August 2007 after Mr. Rove announced that he was leaving the post of White House political adviser to Mr. Bush.

The boy who would be obsessed with the facts – while most of us would have been satisfied that we had blocks as a child – Karl Rove would have counted his — and moved to sorting them out into colors and levels of importance.

WASHINGTON — Karl Rove has inspired a generation of Republican imitators, Democratic vilifiers and, in this election, a term that has reached full-on political buzzword status: “Rovian.”As in, this presidential campaign has been rife with “Rovian tactics” in recent days. This essentially means aggressive tactics — or dirty, in the view of Democrats, who use the term often, and not lovingly.“John McCain has gone Karl Rovian,” Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. said at a recent campaign stop, a variation on a standard stump line from Senator Barack Obama’s running mate.

On Fox News after the presidential debate, Mr. Rove said Gov. Sarah Palin had done a “very good job” of bringing up Mr. Obama’s past associations to the 1960s-era radical William Ayers

Karl Rove, of course, is the revered and reviled Republican maestro who has become ubiquitous in his new career as a commentator, columnist and conversation-starter. He left the Bush administration 13 months ago, yet continues to loom over a campaign that has become the backdrop for his post-White House reinvention.

With Senator Barack Obama, in January 2005, when Mr. Obama and other newly elected members of Congress attended a reception in their honor in the East Room of the White House.

With Senator Barack Obama, in January 2005, when Mr. Obama and other newly elected members of Congress attended a reception in their honor in the East Room of the White House.

On Fox News after Tuesday’s presidential debate, Mr. Rove said Gov. Sarah Palin had done a “very good job” of bringing up Mr. Obama’s past associations to the 1960s-era radical William Ayers, a guilt-by-association tactic that many Democrats decried, naturally, as “Rovian.” Last weekend, Mr. Rove said on his Web site, Rove.com, that Mr. Obama, based on a compilation of recent polling, would win 273 electoral votes — enough to defeat Senator John McCain if the election were held then. While polls had shown the momentum swinging to Mr. Obama, to hear the so-called architect of the Bush presidency saying so was deemed a watershed development among political insiders.

“His name seems as pervasive now as it ever was,” Dan Bartlett, the former senior counselor to President Bush, said of Mr. Rove.

Indeed he does — even though the patron with whom Mr. Rove will always be tied, Mr. Bush, owns some of the lowest presidential-approval ratings ever; even though the “Republican realignment” Mr. Rove once envisioned seems a far-off fantasy.

But Mr. Rove’s lingering impact, perceived power and even his bogyman status continue to place him in great demand, forming the basis of his lucrative post-White House career as a reported seven-figure author, six-figure television commentator and mid-five-figure speaker.

Mr. Rove with Senator John McCain, a bitter Bush rival in the 2000 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination who went on to campaign for the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2004.

Mr. Rove with Senator John McCain, a bitter Bush rival in the 2000 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination who went on to campaign for the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2004.

He was in Philadelphia on Monday for a “debate” with former Senator Max Cleland, the Georgia Democrat who lost an arm and two legs in Vietnam. Mr. Cleland lost his 2002 re-election bid after his Republican opponent, Saxby Chambliss, questioned his commitment to domestic security, running an advertisement featuring likenesses of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Many Democrats remain bitter over that defeat, for which Mr. Cleland still largely blames Mr. Rove.

“It’s a source of income for me,” Mr. Cleland said of the Monday joint appearance, sponsored by an insurance trade group, for which he said he was paid $15,000. (Mr. Rove’s speeches reportedly bring $40,000.)

Mr. Rove’s lingering impact, perceived power and even his bogyman status continue to place him in great demand

Going up against Mr. Rove, Mr. Cleland said, “is like going up against the devil himself.”

It can pay to be the devil himself, or at least thought of that way. “There is an incredible amount of interest in what Karl Rove has to say,” said Howard Wolfson, an adviser to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, who appears with Mr. Rove on Fox News.

Mr. Wolfson said he was amazed by how often Democrats asked him what Mr. Rove was like off the air. “When I say he’s nice, people look at me like I’m nuts,” he said.

Mr. Rove declined an interview for this article, but engaged somewhat by e-mail. He said little on the record, ignored some questions and was dismissive of others. “Look,” he wrote, “I don’t mean to be rude but I have so much on my plate that my brain explodes when you ask questions like how much of my time I spend on each of my activities or how did I apply skills to my new chapter, et cetera. I can answer simple questions of fact but I am stretched through the election.”

But it clearly delights him, for instance, that Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts went on about “the smears of Karl Rove” during his speech at the Democratic National Convention in August. Mr. Rove helpfully pasted a passage from Mr. Kerry’s speech on Rove.com, under the headline “The Losers Have Spoken.”

Going up against Mr. Rove, Mr. Cleland said, “is like going up against the devil himself.”

Two top McCain campaign aides, Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace, worked closely with Mr. Rove in the White House and are commonly referred to as “Rove protégés,” a designation that both dispute. Mr. McCain’s top advisers shudder at the perception that Mr. Rove is calling shots for their campaign — in part because his reputation is toxic among many swing voters, and perhaps the best-known victim of “Rovian” hardball tactics was Mr. McCain himself in the 2000 Republican primary campaign.

People close to Mr. Rove said he was determined to leave his mark on this race through public channels. He prepares diligently for his television appearances, and sprinkles his commentaries with the kind of wonkery that goes well beyond the repertoire of most talking heads. (“The Urban Institute and the Brookings Institutions did a study of the Obama tax plan,” Mr. Rove said on Fox’s “Hannity and Colmes” after the Tuesday debate. “The top 5 percent will pay $131 billion more in taxes.”)

Shortly after Mr. Rove left the Bush administration, the Washington lawyer Robert B. Barnett negotiated contracts for Mr. Rove — as a paid speaker, as an author, as a Fox News commentator and as a columnist for Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal.

“Karl Rove might not be the architect anymore, but he certainly left a set of blueprints in the room,”

Rove.com provides listings of Mr. Rove’s television appearances and columns, an outlet for Mr. Rove to respond to attacks against him in the news media and a place in which he links to articles about himself. “Karl tends to follow what is being said about him, somewhat obsessively I think,” said Scott McClellan, a former White House spokesman under Mr. Bush.

Likewise, Mr. Rove’s public words are closely scoured for hidden meaning. He recently said on Fox News that Mr. McCain’s campaign should be doing more to connect Mr. Obama to the former executives of the fallen lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The next day, Mr. McCain’s campaign released an advertisement doing just that.

“Is John McCain’s campaign taking political directives on how to handle the economic crisis from Karl Rove?” asked the columnist Sam Stein, writing for The Huffington Post.

Political strategists and analysts note the telltale “Rovian” influences on the McCain campaign, especially since Mr. Schmidt was given day-to-day authority in July. The campaign has taken a more aggressive tack against Mr. Obama and developed a sharper rapid-response apparatus, said Ed Rollins, a longtime Republican strategist. (“Very Rove,” Mr. Rollins said.)

Over the summer, the McCain campaign embarked on the classic Rovian strategy of taking an opponent’s perceived strength — in the case of Mr. Obama, his international popularity and ability to draw big crowds — and tried to turn it into a liability, likening Mr. Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

“Karl Rove might not be the architect anymore, but he certainly left a set of blueprints in the room,” said Donna Brazile, the Democratic strategist and a friend of Mr. Rove, conveying a mixture of suspicion and admiration.

Source: NYT