Holly Bailey

Stories by Holly Bailey

  • What Will Obama Say Tonight?

    In a few hours, President Obama goes before reporters in what will be his fourth primetime news conference. We’re told that Obama—not unlike his other pressers—will make a roughly 10-minute statement before taking questions from the media. The president will talk about, what else, health care reform, likely repeating some of talking points we’ve been hearing from him and his aides over the past few days. What will be different about tonight? On message, it’s still unclear. Obama has been trying for days, if not weeks, to use his own political capitol to press Congress into passing reform legislation before lawmakers head home for their summer break next month. But in spite of the blitz this week—not just on Obama’s part, but also his surrogates—it’s unclear if Obama is getting anywhere in those efforts. ...
  • Biden: Those Ukrainian Women Are Just Gorgeous!

    Vice President Joe Biden is in the Ukraine today, where he’s been meeting top leaders there including Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko. Officially, this is Biden’s 6th overseas trip since being sworn in as President Obama’s No. 2. But for Biden, these trips are a little like a reunion tour. Most of the leaders the Veep’s met with he already knew back from his travels as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee. That means there’s an established rapport there, no awkward tip-toeing around—not that Biden would if he could. Reporters covering Biden on these trips usually get to hear some interesting moments between the two leaders—not the standard chit chat on how much they enjoyed meeting one another and how they'll work closely together, yadda yadda. Take for instance Biden’s sit-down with Yushchenko today, which just so happened to occur in a bar. (The two were allegedly drinking Cokes, according to the Veep’s office. Uh huh.) According to the pool report, the...
  • Obama Lobbies for Health Care Again, But Is He Getting Anywhere?

    Keeping up the media blitz, President Obama was back in front of the cameras this afternoon pushing health care reform. Speaking to reporters in the Rose Garden, Obama didn’t really say anything new. He made no new arguments or talked up no new details in the bills Congress is debating. But as the House and Senate struggle to find compromise on several significant issues—including how to pay for it all—Obama took a step back and tried to accentuate the areas of common ground the two sides do have. “I know there is a tendency in Washington to accentuate the differences instead of underscoring common ground,” Obama said. “But make no mistake: We are closer than ever before to the reform that the American people need, and we're going to get the job done.” ...
  • Obama: I Love My Dad Jeans

    Yesterday afternoon, Barack Obama sat down with The Today Show’s Meredith Vieira, who promptly asked about the most pressing issue facing this young president: What was up with those jeans he wore to the All-Star Game last week? They looked like Levi 501s. Entertainment Weekly hilariously dubbed them “Dad jeans.” It was a wardrobe choice that didn’t exactly seem fitting for a guy generally considered pretty stylish. Why, pray tell, did Michelle let him out the door looking like that? Obama, for his part, didn’t even try to defend the jeans. “Here's my attitude: Michelle, she looks fabulous; I'm a little frumpy,” Obama told Vieira. “You know, basically, up until a few years ago, I only had four suits. She used to tease me because they'd get really shiny. I hate to shop. Those jeans are comfortable. And for those of you who, you know, want your president to, you know, look great in his tight jeans, I'm sorry, I'm not the guy.” So no low riders, Vieira asked. “Sorry, yes,” Obama...
  • Obama Suggests Flexibility on Health Care Timing, But Not Much

    Is President Obama wavering on that August deadline that he's given Congress on health care reform? As recently as this weekend, Peter Orszag, Obama’s top economic adviser, had repeated Obama’s long-held position that he wanted a bill before Congress went home for their summer recess. But Obama noticeably did not repeat that deadline in remarks he made today on health care reform. In an interview tonight, PBS’s Jim Lehrer asked Obama point blank if he was “backing off” the August deadline. “I want this done now,” Obama replied. “If there are no deadlines, nothing gets done in this town… If someone comes to me and says, it’s basically done; it’s going to spill over by a few days or a week, you know, that’s different.” Obama insisted he’s still confident he’ll get a bill by the August recess. Lehrer also asked Obama about his sliding poll numbers, particularly on health care reform. George W. Bush often shrugged off poll numbers, suggesting he never even read them. Not Obama, who...
  • Photo Blog: The Pete Souza is a Better Photog Than Me Edition

    The White House updated its official Flickr with several photos from President Obama’s recent jaunt to Moscow. To sum up: Barack and Dmitry look like total BFFs; Putin likes weird-looking desserts; and while the White House did its best to blur out the details, it looks like the Prez has some pretty cool Inspector Gadget-type toys.
  • Is Obama's Plan to Close GITMO on Track?

    Our colleague Michael Isikoff has a big scoop today: A task force advising President Obama on closing Guantanamo Bay has delayed its first big report amid continued divisions over what to do with detainees. And we’re not simply talking days here. The report, which would detail a long-term strategy on how to deal with prisoners, has been put off for a “few months,” a senior administration official tells Isikoff. That raises questions about whether Obama will be able to meet his January deadline of closing Gitmo. A key area of disagreement: Whether the U.S. should hold some prisoners under “indefinite detention.” As you’ll recall, Obama himself suggested he has serious reservations about the policy in a recent interview with AP. But some administration officials are insisting Obama has no choice. Here's Isikoff:...
  • Obama Calls Out DeMint on Health Care. Will He Do the Same to Dems?

    Twice last week, President Obama ripped “naysayers” of his health care reform plan. Phase one of his health care blitz this week: Calling out his opponents more directly. Speaking to reporters at the Children’s National Medical Center here in Washington, Obama cited a remark that Sen. Jim DeMint said last week when speaking to a conference call of GOP activists about health care reform. DeMint, who described the issue as “D-Day for freedom in America,” was rallying the troops to push back on plans for government-run health care. “If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo,” DeMint told the group, according to the Politico’s Ben Smith. “It will break him.”...
  • On Health Care, Support for Obama Slips

    After a weekend at Camp David, President Obama is back at the White House today where he’ll begin his work week speaking on, what else, health care reform. Obama is scheduled to visit the Children’s National Medical Center here in Washington, where he’ll sit down with doctors before talking to reporters. In the words of Obama’s official WH schedule, he’ll use the moment to “press on health care reform.” Later today, he’ll no doubt bring up the topic again, when he sits down for interviews with NBC’s Today Show and PBS’s Jim Lehrer. As we blogged on Friday, it’s all an effort to seize the bully pulpit. Obama wants to use his personal popularity with the nation to get this health care bill through Congress....
  • Obama, McCain and Bush 41 Honor Cronkite

    Our in-box quickly filled up last night upon word of legendary journalist Walter Cronkite’s death. Sen. John McCain, who made his first post-POW years visit to Vietnam with Cronkite, called him the most “influential newsman of our time.” “I will never forget our memorable visit together to Hanoi,” McCain said. Former President George H.W. Bush, meanwhile, called Cronkite a “towering respected figure.” “Many Americans heard it from Walter first that President Kennedy had died, or that the man had walked on the moon,” he said. Even President Obama added his own tribute. Here’s his full statement, courtesy the White House:...
  • Obama Turns Up the Heat on Health Care Reform, But Is It Too Late?

    In a last-minute event at the White House this afternoon, President Obama insisted that “now is not the time to slow down” the push for health care reform. “Now is certainly not the time to lose heart,” Obama said. “Make no mistake, if we step back from this challenge, at this moment, we are consigning our children to a future of skyrocketing premiums and crushing deficits. There’s no argument about that.” It was the fifth day in a row that Obama has gone before cameras to push for an overhaul of the nation’s troubled health care system, but the president today seemed to be on more on defense than on offense. ...
  • No Joke: Treasury Dept Looking to Hire Humor Coach

    We really thought Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was doing okay again. After months and months in which he literally looked like he wanted to die right on the spot, Geithner has regularly been spotted smiling, even laughing. You read that right: Laughing. Your Gaggler personally saw Geithner getting his chuckle on with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the G-20 meetings this past spring. Truth be told, it was like a rainbow in the sky. After all, no one, not even Tim Geithner, should look so sad all the time. It’s just too depressing.But, alas, maybe it was all a front. Hat tip to New York Magazine, we've learned the Treasury Department is looking to hire someone to come in and teach people over there how to laugh again. No joke. Here’s the job blurb, via the Federal Business Opportunities site:...
  • Another 'C Street' Pol Accused of Cheating

    Another week, another sex scandal: Word broke late yesterday that former GOP Rep. Chip Pickering is the latest politico in trouble for allegedly cheating on his wife. Pickering’s now-estranged wife, Leisha, has filed suit against his alleged mistress, whom she says busted up their marriage and ruined her husband’s political career. The alleged other woman, Elizabeth Creekmore Byrd, was Pickering’s college sweetheart. The suit claims Pickering, who left Congress in January, began having an affair with Creekmore Byrd when he was still in the House and that their relationship ended both of their marriages. What’s so juicy about this latest dust-up? Well, while he was in Congress, Pickering just so happened to bunk at the increasingly infamous rowhouse at 133 C Street SE here in Washington, a “Christian fellowship home” where he was roomies with John Ensign and where Mark Sanford used to hang out. Ensign and Sanford, as the world well knows, have been caught up in their own sex scandals...
  • Obama Condemns Jakarta Bombings

    President Obama just released a statement on the bombings in Jakarta, Indonesia overnight. Suicide bombers almost simultaneously struck two luxury hotels—the Ritz Carlton and the Marriott—killing at least eight people and injuring more than 50. The violence hits close to home for Obama, who spent a significant chunk of his childhood in Jakarta. When he was 6, Obama moved there with his mom and stepfather, who was originally from Indonesia. Obama lived there until he was 10. During the campaign, Obama often referred to Jakarta as “my old hometown.” Here's Obama's statement this morning, courtesy the White House:...
  • Senate Committee Approves Health Care Bill

    One down, four more committees to go: In a party line vote, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, aka HELP, approved a bill that would overhaul the nation’s health care. It’s the first committee to act on President Obama’s push to tackle health care reform. The HELP bill, approved in a 13-10 vote, would require Americans to have insurance and provide a federal subsidy for those who can’t afford it. Under the bill, employers would be required to provide insurance to their workers or pay the federal government a fee to do so. It would also give people the right to enroll in that frequently mentioned public plan. The big question mark is cost, and from here, the bill will to go the Senate Finance Committee, which is still trying to figure out how to pay for it all. At a private meeting Monday, President Obama pressed Finance chair Max Baucus to get a bill out of his committee by the end of the week, but it’s unclear if that will actually happen. With Obama’s...
  • Leahy's Other Role: Batman Aficionado

    For the past two days, we’ve been watching Patrick Leahy run the show at Sonia Sotomayor’s Senate confirmation hearing. He’s the gruff-talking Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee, the guy who keeps close watch on the clock to make sure senators aren’t going over their allotted time for questioning and so on. Perhaps you know him best as the man former VP Dick Cheney told to go “F--- Himself” a few years ago. But your Gaggler can’t stop thinking about another big Leahy role: His bit part in one of her favorite films of 2008, The Dark Knight. As you’ll see in the clip above, Leahy shows up in the scene where the Joker, played by the late great Heath Ledger, storms a party at Bruce Wayne’s penthouse. Leahy is more than just your average extra. He actually trades a few lines with Ledger, who eventually won a posthumous Oscar for the role. In the film, Leahy tries to stand up to the Joker who promptly puts a switchblade to the senator’s mouth and threatens to carve a ghastly ...
  • As Obama Heads to the All-Star Game, a Debate Over What to Wear

    President Obama is headed to Michigan this afternoon where he’s scheduled to make remarks about the economy, job training, and education. But it’s Obama’s second stop of the day that has folks over at the White House most excited. From Detroit, the president will fly to St. Louis, where he’ll throw out the ceremonial first pitch at tonight’s Major League Baseball All-Star game. Joining Obama on Air Force One: baseball great Willie Mays. Now it’s no secret that Obama likes basketball, but he’s a pretty big baseball fan, too. There was rarely a day on the campaign that Obama wasn’t spotted wearing his beloved Chicago White Sox hat, and we’re told he wears it with almost the same frequency during down time at the White House. That prompted a funny debate among White House aides last week: should Obama wear his White Sox gear during an official appearance at what is supposed to be a team neutral event? Some aides argued it wouldn’t be cool for the president of the United States to...
  • Tragedy at the WH: Obama's TelePrompter Killed on Duty

    After the wind blew over one of his TelePrompter screens and broke it during a graduation speech in May, Vice President Joe Biden jokingly wondered how he would break the news to President Obama. “What am I going to tell the president?” Biden asked the crowd. “Tell him his teleprompter is broken? What will he do then?” Well now we know. Obama was in the middle of a speech defending his economic stimulus plan at the White House yesterday afternoon when suddenly one of his TelePrompter screens came loose and crashed to the ground. The glass plate loudly shattered into several pieces, catching Obama off guard. “Oh goodness!” he said, peering over the side of his lectern. “Sorry about that guys.” He was speaking to a group of mayors and urban policy types about efforts to help cities make it through the tough economy, and they giggled a bit as the president looked at the glass at his feet. (Those savages!) Barely skipping a beat, Obama then went back to his remarks, struggling just a l...
  • Sotomayor's Hearing Was Not Exactly Must-See TV

    How exciting was the first day of Sonia Sotomayor's SCOTUS confirmation hearing? This picture says it all: Here's Sotomayor's nephews, Conner and Corey Sotomayor, snoozing away at her hearing today. We're not throwing stones here. Truth be told, after nearly five hours of opening statements, your Gaggler felt like this, too--and it wasn't the jet lag from President Obama's trip last week, either.
  • Is this a SCOTUS Hearing or 'Sportscenter'?

    If there’s anything we really learned from the first day of Sonia Sotomayor’s Senate confirmation hearings, it’s this: senators LOVE their sports analogies. Just ask John Cornyn, who invoked football when talking about Sotomayor’s time as an appellate court judge. “A lower-court judge is like the quarterback who executes the plays—not the coach who calls the plays,” Cornyn said. “That means many of your cases don’t tell us much about your judicial philosophy. But a few of your opinions do raise questions—because they suggest the kinds of plays you’d call if you were promoted to the coaching staff.” Hmm. OK, yeah, we get it. (For the record, in Cornyn’s honor, your Gaggler is totally coining a new catchphrase—“activist quarterbacks”—for the rogue players who don’t listen to the coach. You heard it here first, ESPN!)Everybody else went with baseball—and for this we hold Chief Justice John Roberts responsible. “Judges are like umpires,” Roberts said in his 2005 confirmation hearings. ...
  • Obama Picks Surgeon General, Zings Health Care Reform 'Cynics'

    With that Sanjay Gupta flirtation now well in the past, President Obama just announced he’s nominating Dr. Regina Benjamin as the U.S. Surgeon General. Benjamin, an Alabama family practitioner, runs a rural health clinic in Bayou La Batre, Ala., which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Her efforts to rebuild her clinic in the wake of Katrina gained her national recognition—Among other things, she borrowed against her house and maxed her credit cards to rebuild. She won a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” last year.In announcing Benjamin, Obama took the opportunity to lobby Congress to move on health care reform. Speaking to reporters last week in Italy, Obama reiterated his call to get bills through both both the House and Senate by the August recess—though key Democrats suggested over the weekend that it’s unlikely to happen. “I think we’ll be through the Finance committee by the August recess, and I think that’s a realistic goal,” Sen. Kent Conrad said Sunday. “There...
  • Photo Blog: Obama in Ghana

    President Obama is back at the White House today, having wrapped up a week-long trip to Russia, Italy and Ghana. Your Gaggler was in the press pool on Saturday, which means there wasn't much opportunity to blog. But as you likely know by now, Obama spoke to Ghana’s parliament and took his family to visit the Cape Coast Castle, a former prison where slaves were held until they were put on boats to America. Everywhere he went, Obama was greeted by massive crowds, especially in Cape Coast where thousands of people lined the streets and literally hung off buildings to get a glimpse of POTUS. There were signs everywhere with Obama’s picture, and as you’ll see in the photos posted after the jump, people actually wore clothing made out of fabric featuring photos of the president and First Lady Michelle Obama. To say people were excited to see Obama is an understatement. At nearly every stop, crowds chased the motorcade—even waving at reporter, which, as one fellow pooler noted, doesn...
  • Why Obama Chose Ghana

    President Obama has arrived in Ghana, the final stop of his week-long three country trip abroad. Air Force One touched down in Accra just before midnight local time. Because of the late hour, there was no official arrival ceremony—though he and his family were greeted on the tarmac by his counterpart, President John Atta Mills, and a small team of colorful dancers. Your Gaggler wasn’t on Air Force One (we’re flying home with the president tomorrow), but we assume he saw what reporters on the press plane witnessed upon arrival: Streets dotted with large billboards and signs featuring Obama, as well as tiny American flags everywhere with Obama’s face printed over the red and white stripes. And this was only from the less than five-minute ride from the airport to the hotel where the president and his family are sleeping tonight. We’re told Obama’s image is plastered all over central Accra, where the president is scheduled to visit with local leaders and deliver a major speech before...
  • Obama Delivers Letter From Senator Kennedy to the Pope

    So what did President Obama and Pope Benedict XVI talk about today at the Vatican? We’ve gotten debriefs of the meeting from both the Vatican and the White House. The two met one-on-one for about 25 minutes. Among the leading topics: stem cell research and abortion. According to both the Vatican and the White House, Obama told the pope that he’s committed to reducing the number of abortions within the United States—a key point that Obama has repeated on the campaign trail and now a president. Did anything the pope say change Obama’s mind. White House aides say no. “At the end of the day, it may just be that there's issues that they can't come to agreement on, but I think he believes…that you can disagree without being disagreeable, Obama adviser Denis McDonough told reporters on Air Force One.According to the White House, the two also talked a lot about foreign policy, including Cuba, Honduras and the situation in the Middle East. According to the WH, the two talked at...
  • Obama Meets the Pope, Makes It Out Alive

    President Obama just wrapped up his visit with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican. We’ll have to wait for word later from administration officials on what exactly the two talked about in their private sit-down. And no doubt the Vatican will have its own take. But reporters at the White House press file at the G-8 site in L’Aquila were able to see some of the visit on feed provided by official Vatican TV. Obama first met one-on-one with the pope, where the two exchanged the usual greetings as the president was escorted into Benedict's private apartment. The two leaders then went into the Papal Library, where Obama sat on one side of a very fancy wooden desk and Benedict sat on the other. As dozens of photographers captured the moment for eternity, Obama made small talk. “You must be used to having your picture taken,” the president said. The pope, with a faint smile, nodded. “I’m still getting used to it,” Obama told him. The pope gave him a careful look. “You must be getting...
  • At the G-8, Obama Gets Personal About Poverty

    One of the real accomplishments here at the G-8 was the announcement that participating countries would contribute $20 billion toward global food security. Administration officials initially estimated they would only get $15 billion in commitments but Obama pushed the issue heavily. At a meeting this morning with the leaders of Nigeria, Libya, Ethiopia and several other African countries, Obama, talked about his own family’s experience with Africa and poverty. “Everyone knows his father is from Kenya, that he still has relatives living in poverty, and that while he’s president of the United States, he feels poverty in a very personal way because of this of his family situation,” a senior administration official told reporters. In part, Obama talked about Kenya’s decline from the days when his father lived there, and it was an economy doing better than South Korea, to now, where family members who remain there struggle. “His cousin in Kenya can’t find a job without paying a bribe,”...
  • Obama Says G-8 Concerned About 'Appalling' Events in Iran

    Going before reporters here in Italy, President Obama called his first G-8 summit “highly productive,” even as he conceded that summit leaders didn’t agree on every issue and not every problem was solved. Obama cited “meaningful” progress on issues like climate change and nuclear proliferation and disputed reports that the summit had failed to meet expectations by not issuing sanctions on Iran for the “appalling events” in the wake of last month’s disputed election there. ...
  • Can Obama Find Common Ground With the Pope?

    For the past five days, President Obama has navigated some of the more trickier diplomatic moments of his young presidency—first in Moscow, where he talked to the Russians about nuclear weapons and Iran, and then at the G-8 summit, where talks were dominated by efforts to curb climate change. But as he enters the final stretch of his fourth presidential trip abroad, Obama faces his most emotional and perhaps most contentious meeting yet. On Friday, he’ll head to the Vatican to meet for the first time with Pope Benedict XVI, a leader with whom Obama shares strong philosophical differences.Among other things, Obama and the pope are at odds on abortion rights, stem cell research and other hot button cultural issues. But White House aides said Obama would go into the meeting looking for areas where they can agree.  That includes pushing for Middle East peace and fighting global poverty. Both men have been strong proponents for immigration reform and expanded health care. The White House...
  • Did the CIA Deliberately Lie to Congress?

    Now this is a big story, if true: Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee accused the CIA of lying to Congress about classified actions, citing as their evidence recent testimony by the agency’s chief, Leon Panetta. Intel chairman Silvestre Reyes, in a letter sent to House Dem and GOP leadership, said the committee “has been misled, has not been provided full and complete notifications and (at least one case) has been affirmatively lied to.” (Here’s the letter, courtesy the Washington Post.) A separate letter signed by seven other Democrats on the Intel committee says Panetta recently told the panel in closed-door testimony on June 24th that the CIA had “misled members” and “concealed significant actions” from Congress for the last eight years. What actions are they specifically talking about? Democrats won’t say—but according to the Wall Street Journal, the CIA does confirm Panetta “took the initiative” to notify Congress about “lapses.” This comes on the heels of House...
  • WH Still Hopeful on Climate Change

    Even before President Obama arrived in Italy for the G-8, White House officials were downplaying expectations that there would be major movement on climate change policy here. And that’s still the message, a day after the talks produced an agreement to limit levels of greenhouse gases in the long term but failed to produce numerical benchmarks in the short term for how exactly to achieve that goal. Amid the disarray, developing nations, led by China and India, failed to sign onto the accord—putting at risk talks set for later this year in Copenhagen when the United Nations hopes to cement a worldwide climate treaty. Asked this morning about the failure to get an accord, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs repeated a line of argument he used earlier this week: that the administration is more concerned with getting something through Congress before turning to the world stage. “I'm not entirely sure that we expected to come here and have eight to 10 years of disagreement wash...
  • Lula Zings Obama on Soccer

    Ouch. At day two of the G-8 summit this morning, President Obama met with Brazilian President Lula da Silva, who couldn’t resist getting a dig in about his country’s recent victory over the U.S. national soccer team. The two leaders were gathered for a photo op in front of reporters when Lula motioned to an aide, who subsequently brought over a Brazilian soccer jersey autographed by team members. “Hey, look at this,” Obama said, holding up the shirt. As reporters watched, Lula began excitedly talking about how stressed he was during the June 28th soccer match between the U.S. and Brazilian national teams in the Confederations Cup series. The U.S. led most of that game 2-0, only to lose 3-2 to the Brazilians. Through an interpreter, Lula told Obama that he had spent most of the game on the edge of his seat and that he had subsequently ripped off Obama’s campaign catchphrase to make it through. “Yes we can, Yes we can,” Silva repeatedly said, as Obama grinned. Lula has long been one ...
  • G-8 on Guard for Aftershocks, Literally

    With so many world leaders in town, it goes without saying that there is massive security at the G-8 here in Italy. But there are some threats officials here simply can’t control, and that’s Mother Nature. The summit is being held in L’Aquila, a city that is rebuilding from a deadly earthquake this past April that killed nearly 300 people and left at least 50,000 homeless. Described as Italy's worst quake in 30 years, it measured 6.3 on the Richter scale, but the shaking hasn’t stopped. The city has been experiencing frequent aftershocks, including one over the weekend that measured a 4.1. That may not be a big deal to folks on the West Coast, but in L’Aquila, a city full of super old buildings, that’s a pretty hefty shake. The summit is being organized by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who originally had wanted to host President Obama and other leaders on a cruise ship off the coast of Sardinia. But after the earthquake, Berlusconi moved the meetings to L’Aquila to...