Holly Bailey

Stories by Holly Bailey

  • Obama Meets With McChrystal

      In a surprise meeting, President Obama met with Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Denmark today. Obama, who was overseas lobbying for Chicago’s bid for the Olympics, met with McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, for about 25 minutes on Air Force One. According to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, the meeting was set up after Obama learned that McChrystal was in London this week. No doubt the timing is interesting. Last weekend McChrystal told 60 Minutes that he had talked to Obama only once since he took over the Afghan command—a surprising stat for a president who values outreach. On Wednesday, McChrystal participated via videoconference in a White House strategy meeting on Afghanistan. Today’s meeting was the first time McChrystal and Obama have met face to face. Will the photo be enough to please critics who say Obama hasn't talked to his general enough?
  • The Weekly Obsession: Public Option Not Dead ... Yet

    Is the public option dead? Yes. Oh, wait, no. We can't keep up but, rest assured, the continuing debate over health-care reform made for good TV last week. Here's the latest clip from NEWSWEEK video extraordinaire Sarah Frank.
  • Obama Loses Key Foreign-Policy Adviser

      Big news from the West Wing: Mark Lippert, one of President Obama’s closest foreign-policy advisers, is leaving to rejoin the Navy. Lippert, who is deputy national-security adviser and chief of staff of the National Security Council, has worked for Obama since his first days in the Senate and later advised him during the campaign. Perhaps no one on the foreign-policy team, save for fellow campaign vet and top NSC aide Denis McDonough, is closer to Obama—a situation that has sometimes raised questions about the relationship between Obama and Lippert’s direct boss, national-security adviser Jim Jones. At the height of the 2008 Democratic primary, Lippert, who is a member of the Naval Reserve, was deployed to Iraq but returned to advise Obama and ultimately accepted a top post in the administration. According to a White House official, Lippert is taking “leave” to rejoin the military as a Navy SEAL—though there’s no indication when he’ll return. It’s an admirable career move, but it...
  • Break Out the Fainting Couch: McCain Meets Betty Draper

      Just because John McCain once trashed Barack Obama for being the biggest celebrity in the world doesn’t mean the Arizona senator doesn’t enjoy a little bit of attention from Hollywood himself. For the second time in a week, McCain has posted on Twitter a photo of him posing with a celebrity. Seriously, the guy is a total fanboy. Last week, it was Joe Perry from Aerosmith. Today it’s January Jones from Mad Men who’s in Washington this week lobbying Congress to protect sharks. Yes, sharks. We must say, the look on McCain’s face is totally priceless. Does he need a fainting couch? Or is he just doing his best Don Draper impression?
  • Gaggle Recap: Tom DeLay Tangos, Not Terribly, on 'Dancing With the Stars'

    We seriously thought Tom DeLay was a goner. Despite all the magic of his debut routine on the premiere of Dancing With the Stars—all that booty shaking, the shameful lip syncing and, oh god, that knee slide—DeLay barely made it past George Hamilton’s D-list son and one-hit wonder Macy Gray in the elimination round last week. But scraping by is still a win when the name of the game is survival—and if there’s one thing DeLay knows a thing or two about, it’s scraping by.But enough talk. Let’s roll tape: the first shot of his segment last night was DeLay gleefully sashaying down the hallway, shaking his hips with a level of concentration we haven’t seen on screen since Baby struggled to find her sense of rhythm in hopes of storming Johnny’s Castle in Dirty Dancing. His partner, regret-plagued pro dancer Cheryl Burke, shoots him a look. “Are those your hips?” she asks. DeLay giggles like a schoolgirl—and randomly, the House Democrats’ poll numbers tick up slightly. As Gloria Estefan...
  • Suddenly, Disgraced Politicians Are Cool Again

    Former GOP congressman Tom DeLay is back tonight for week two of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. Truth be told, we’re still not quite over the shock of DeLay’s debut—all that exaggerated booty shaking, it still haunts us. But it was awesome TV—so awesome, we almost forgot that DeLay is still awaiting trial on charges he broke campaign-finance laws in Texas. What’s interesting is that DeLay isn’t the only once disgraced politico enjoying an unlikely renaissance at the moment. Everywhere we look these days there’s a former lawmaker once written off for dead sneaking back into the public eye—and not always to bad reviews. Is America more forgiving these days? Or have we just gotten used to the drama? Here’s a look at three other scandal-ridden lawmakers who are once again getting buzz these days:Jim Traficant. Perhaps most famous for his unruly, ill-fitting rat's nest of a toupee, the flamboyant Ohio Democrat was kicked out of Congress in 2002 after being convicted on bribery and...
  • The Weekly Obsession: Obama's Media Blitz

      President Obama was all over TV this week—oh wait, sorry Fox. The only thing that got more coverage: the media talking about Obama's big media blitz. It's the subject of the latest clip from NEWSWEEK video editor extraordinaire Sarah Frank.
  • Obama and Allies Accuse Iran of Building Secret Nuclear Site

    President Obama and the leaders of Britain and France accused Iran on Friday of building a secret underground nuclear facility that had been hidden from the world for years. The U.S. had reportedly been tracking the plant, but Obama and his counterparts decided to go public today after Iran apparently learned that Western intelligence agencies were onto the project. On Monday, Iran made passing mention of the secret facility in a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency—describing it as a “pilot plant.” But Obama was skeptical of those claims, calling the facility a “direct challenge” to international agreements governing non-proliferation. Speaking today from Pittsburgh where the G20 economic summit is underway, Obama, along with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, called for Iran to immediately open the site to international inspectors. “The site deepens a growing concern that Iran is refusing to live up to [its] international...
  • Will Obama Reject More Troops in Afghanistan?

    Is President Obama seriously considering overruling Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s coming request for more troops in Afghanistan or is this a White House head fake? Over the weekend, Obama suggested in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he was “skeptical” that more troops would meet the goal of defeating Al Qaeda, which he noted was the original focus of the Afghan mission. In an interview last night with PBS’s Charlie Rose, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel seemed to echo his boss’s wariness about more troops. “Everybody wants to rush to one thing: ‘I need more troops,’ ” Emanuel said. “Our goal . . .  [is] to make sure that there’s not a safe place for Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda allies to do harm to America here at home and our interests around the world . . . Some people think there are different means to doing that.” Asked directly if Obama would overrule McChrystal, Emanuel replied, “This is one of the biggest decisions the president’s going to make.”Even if poll...
  • Carly Fiorina's Strange New Web Site

     Former Hewlett-Packard chairwoman Carly Fiorina is out with a new site today previewing her not-yet-official run against Sen. Barbara Boxer in California next year. And it is, how should we put it, a little weird. The site is fairly bare-bones─perhaps not surprising considering the “Is she running or not?” dance that Fiorina has been doing the past few weeks. It features a somewhat puzzling Flash sequence that we are guessing is aimed at illustrating the vast differences between Fiorina and Boxer: “It’s day & night. It’s dogs & cats. It’s good & bad. It’s Carly vs. Boxer.” Wait a minute─it’s dogs and cats?  It’s day and night? That’s followed by an even more puzzling message: “Coming Soon?” Um, Carly, shouldn’t you be telling us that? And then there is the kicker: Carlyfornia Dreamin’!!!”  That’s either the worst pun we’ve ever seen or a stroke of brilliance aimed at getting Internet eyeballs on the day when people are scouring Google for gossip about John Phillips, the...
  • The Awesome Train Wreck That Was Tom DeLay on Dancing With the Stars

    The last time we saw Tom DeLay, he was a scandal-ridden leper slinking back to Texas with nothing left but that giant, threatening smile that made even people who liked him kind of hate him. He had lost it all─his post as house majority leader, his congressional seat, his standing reservation at Signatures, Jack Abramoff’s expense-account lunchery for Republicans headed for ignominy, or prison, or both. Perhaps worst of all, DeLay had lost his mojo as “The Hammer,” the one guy you didn’t dare cross on Capitol Hill and expect to survive. Until the end, he cast himself as a victim of power-hungry Democrats, even though it was Republicans who ultimately threw him overboard. He knew how it worked—after all, he’d done the same thing to Newt Gingrich. And so DeLay went, but he didn’t like it, and like a character straight out of a Sergio Leone spaghetti Western, he promised to get justice and clear his name. “I’ll be back,” DeLay vowed. Turns out he was right. Last night Tom DeLay made h...
  • Why Is John Edwards Still Spending Campaign Money?

    A federal grand jury is reportedly winding down its investigation into whether former senator John Edwards broke any laws when his political committees made payments to his former mistress, Rielle Hunter. But here’s a random question: why is Edwards, who quit the 2008 Democratic primary almost two years ago, still spending money from his presidential fund-raising accounts? Since January, the John Edwards for President committee along with a separate account, Edwards for President, have spent more than $625,000, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. That’s not much compared to compared to usual Washington standards (A House race, on average, costs $1 million these days). But it’s a significant amount of money when you consider that Edwards hasn’t actively been in the political spotlight for more than a year. He hasn’t been making political appearances on his own or on behalf of other Democrats since August 2008 when he publicly fessed up to an affair with...
  • Why Obama Will Be All Over TV This Weekend

    Unless you watch Fox, get ready to see a lot of President Obama in the coming days. At the White House today, Obama is taping interviews with ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, and Univision to be shown during each network’s Sunday-morning talk shows. On Monday night, Obama will be the first sitting president to appear on the Late Show With David Letterman. In other words, it’s going to be all Obama, all the time, for the next few days─except on Fox, which hasn’t exactly had the best of relationships with this White House. The subject of this media blitz: Obama’s push for health-care reform. It’s a Hail Mary strategy not unlike what we saw last spring when Obama hit all the networks to boost public support for his then-struggling stimulus plan. It worked then. Can Obama do it again? It’s not unusual for a sitting president to take advantage of the bully pulpit to push his message, but Obama’s strategy is notable for a few reasons. One, for an administration that i...
  • How Joe Wilson's Heckle Became a Campaign Cash Cow

    Did Democrats actually do Rep. Joe Wilson a favor by rebuking him on the House floor? In the week since the South Carolina Republican interrupted President Obama’s speech, Wilson has raised almost $1.8 million for his 2010 reelection bid, thanks in part to all the publicity. Rob Miller, Wilson’s Democratic opponent, has raised about $1.6 million. And money on both sides keeps rolling in, in part because of some aggressive efforts to tap into online political donors while the drama is still hot. Just check out Google─where parties working on behalf of both Wilson and Miller have been running online ads that come up when people look for certain phrases. When you Google the phrase “Joe Wilson,” at least four sponsored political ads show up. One is paid for by Wilson’s reelection campaign: “Joe Wilson Under Attack: Stand with Joe and fight back.” Another is from ActBlue, the liberal political-action committee that acts as a conduit for Democratic candidates and is raising money for...
  • Clinton: U.S. Backs Efforts to Free NEWSWEEK's Maziar Bahari

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Canadian officials today that the U.S. fully backs efforts to press Iran to release jailed NEWSWEEK journalist Maziar Bahari. The Canadian-based Canwest News Service reports that Clinton made the commitment during a private meeting Wednesday with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon. The two met on the sidelines of a meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the White House. Clinton offered “full support” to Canada in calling on Iran to release Bahari, Cannon’s office told Canwest. Bahari, an Iranian-born filmmaker and journalist with Canadian citizenship, was detained June 21 in Tehran while covering Iran’s presidential election and the resulting protests for NEWSWEEK. Iranian authorities arrested him and dozens of other reporters and bloggers, accusing them of acting on behalf of Western governments to fuel dissent. This summer, Iranian state media reported Bahari had confessed. Yet Bahari has never...
  • Caption Contest: Obama-Wan Kenobi

      Here’s President Obama dueling with, yes, a Star Wars light saber at an event held this afternoon at the White House to promote Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics. Asked about her husband’s fencing abilities, first lady Michelle Obama was simply unsparing in her critique. “It was pathetic,” she told reporters, per CBS’s Mark Knoller. Pretty funny—though not as humorous as we’re guessing your caption ideas could be. Leave us your ideas in the comments.
  • The Joe Wilson Censure Vote: A Look at Who Crossed Party Lines

    By Holly Bailey and Daniel StoneAs expected, the House voted this evening to censure Rep. Joe (You Lie!) Wilson (R-S.C.) for interrupting President Obama’s speech to Congress last week. The vote was 240-179, breaking down largely along party lines. Yet there were a few notable splits: 12 Democrats voted against the resolution, including two of the party’s most liberal members: Reps. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and Jim McDermott of Washington. “It does not further the process of civility in the House,” McDermott told NEWSWEEK after the vote. “He apologized to the president, and the apology was accepted. That’s all there needs to be.” Five other Dems voted “present” during the vote, including Rep. Barney Frank, who told reporters earlier Wednesday that he didn’t support the resolution. “I think it’s bad precedent to put us in charge of deciding whether people act like jerks,” Frank said. “I don’t have time to monitor everyone’s civility.” Still, seven Republicans crossed party lines to...
  • TMZ Posts Audio of Obama Calling Kanye a 'Jackass.' But How Did It Get the Tape?

    You knew it was going to happen: TMZ has obtained and posted the audio of President Obama calling Kanye West a “jackass.” It appears the initially off-the-record slam came during the chitchat preceding an official CNBC interview yesterday. CNBC’s John Harwood asks Obama if his daughters were as upset about as his kids were about West’s interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards. “I thought it was really inappropriate,” Obama says. “She’s getting an award. Why are you butting in?” Swift, the president notes, seems like a “perfectly nice person.” When Harwood questions why Kanye did it, Obama says point-blank: “He’s a jackass.” It didn’t take long for Obama to figure out that he said something he maybe shouldn’t have. “Where’s the pool?” Obama jokingly asks, as if to make sure no one heard him. “Come on, guys, cut the president some slack. I’ve got a lot of other stuff on my plate.”The tape is pretty funny, and as your Gaggler noted earlier, Obama...
  • As Support for the Afghan War Hits New Low, Mullen Says More Troops Are Needed

    What is more dangerous to the stability of Afghanistan—the resurgent Taliban or the shaky Afghan government? Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers today that both problems ranked about the same. “I consider the threat from a lack of government to be equal to the threat from the Taliban,” Mullen said. “The legitimacy of the Afghan government at every level … is a real concern.” Mullen’s comments come amid allegations of vote rigging in last month’s Afghan presidential election and continued rumors of serious discontent between the Obama administration and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Both Karzai and his challenger, former Afghan Interior Minister Abdullah Abdullah, claim to be winning the disputed elections, a problem that Mullen acknowledged has only added to the deteriorating security situation on the ground in Afghanistan. Though he offered no specifics, Mullen told lawmakers more U.S....
  • More Than a Year Before Election Day, 2010 Fundraising Already Setting Records

    If you thought the bad economy would slow down political spending, think again. The Federal Election Commission is out with its initial analysis of fundraising for the 2010 elections. In the first six months of the year, House and Senate candidates raised more than $250 million, more than half of that going to Democrats. Of that total, Senate candidates raised $93.2 million─a new record for off-year elections. All  that raises the question: with many of the nation’s top industries struggling and people having suffered major losses in the stock market, who exactly can afford to write big political checks these days? Well, in a nutshell, it’s the usual suspects.The Center for Responsive Politics has a breakdown of the top individual donors to political candidates so far this year, and─surprise, surprise─the list basically looks like a retread of past campaign years. The biggest individual donor so far this cycle is Bernard Schwartz, chairman of Loral Space & Communications, a...
  • Obama Calls Kanye West a 'Jackass' for His Outburst at the VMAs

    Has President Obama finally found an issue that could unite both Democrats and Republicans in Washington? Obama was wrapping up an interview with CNBC tonight when he was asked about hip-hop star Kanye West’s bizarre appearance at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards. According to an ABC reporter who later posted the comment on Twitter, Obama called Kanye a "jackass."Now, in case you’ve been in a cave for the past 36 hours, here’s what happened: Kanye West dashed on stage during the show and ripped the microphone away from teen country starlet Taylor Swift as she was accepting an award for "Best Female Video." “Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you. I’ll let you finish, but Beyonce has one of the best videos of all time,” West declared. “One of the best videos of ALL TIME!!” Swift, who is perhaps most famous for being dumped by a Jonas brother, just stood there, looking dazed. Needless to say, the clip was candy to the cable TV nets, which aired it hundreds of times on...
  • Why the Debate Over Afghanistan Makes the White House Nervous

    Forget health-care reform. Is President Obama on the verge of an even bigger political fight when it comes to Afghanistan? For more than a week, Obama has been weighing a classified report from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, reviewing current U.S. strategy in the region. While it’s reportedly not included in the review, McChrystal is expected to ask that additional troops be deployed to Afghanistan on top of the 62,000 U.S. soldiers already there. Not unlike the first debate over Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy this past spring, there are reportedly internal divisions at the White House over what to do in the region. For one, Vice President Joe Biden is said to have concerns about an expanding U.S. footprint in the area. But that dispute may be nothing compared to the growing opposition Obama faces from his own party about future strategy in Afghanistan.For months, there have been rumblings among Democrats on Capitol Hill that not only would they not...
  • Five People Who Made Nancy Pelosi's S--t List Last Night

    Joe (YOU LIE!!!!) Wilson may be getting all of the attention in Washington today, but who will ever forget that death glare that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shot Wilson moments after he unleashed his id on President Obama? Talk about withering─no wonder Wilson looked so shaky when he went before reporters this morning. This is why we enjoy watching Pelosi so much whenever Obama gives a big speech before Congress. She hovers over his shoulder in that big brown chair, trying to smile and act cheery. Sometimes Pop-Up Pelosi’s outbursts of enthusiasm seem truly genuine. But when someone annoys her, even just a little bit, she can’t hide it. After all, we’re talking about a lady who likes to run a tight ship, and those who cross her … well, she lets them have it. Last night was no exception: sitting over Obama’s left shoulder, Pelosi bounced between moments of smiling and seething. And while Republicans were her primary annoyance, she shot some fairly telling looks to Democrats, too. Who...
  • Joe Wilson Apologizes, Again, and Obama Accepts

    The drama continues today over Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst during President Obama's speech last night. The South Carolina Republican went before reporters this morning and repeated his apology over his “You lie!” outburst. One thing that caught this Gaggler’s eye: Wilson said that GOP leadership told him to call the White House and apologize. Not to be nitpicky, but is Wilson trying to send the message here that’s he’s not all that contrite? For the record, Rob Miller, Wilson’s Democratic opponent in 2010, has raised more than $200,000 since last night. We were wondering if Wilson had perhaps raised some money of his own, but his office isn’t talking.At the White House, Obama made his first remarks about the heckle, telling reporters that he’d accepted Wilson’s apology. "Yes, I do," Obama replied. "He apologized quickly and without equivocation, and I'm appreciative of that." And, he slyly suggested the media should maybe move on. Here’s Obama’s remarks,...
  • Kennedy's Letter to President Obama: 'There Will Be Struggles'

    One of the more poignant moments of President Obama’s speech tonight was his discussion of a letter that he received in recent days from the late senator Ted Kennedy about health-care reform. The letter was written in May, just after Kennedy learned that he had terminal cancer. As Obama related, Kennedy described health-care reform as the “great unfinished business of our society” and the “cause of my life.” Here’s the full text of the letter, courtesy of the White House:...