Holly Bailey

Stories by Holly Bailey

  • In Italy for the G-8, Obama Turns to Climate Change

    President Obama just arrived in Italy, where he’ll spend two days meeting with foreign leaders at the Group of Eight meeting in L’Aquila before heading to Rome where he’ll sit down with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on Friday. What’s on the agenda this week? Everything—though talks are expected to focus on Iran, financial markets,  non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the on-going war in Afghanistan, and world hunger. On Thursday, Obama will chair a meeting expected to focus primarily on climate change. And then there’s the random issues that might come up. Not unlike the G-20 meetings in London in April, there are rumblings here that China might be reviving that touchy subject of setting up a currency to compete with the U.S. dollar—though that might have lost some steam as Chinese President Hu Jintao abruptly headed back home today to deal with the violent rioting that has left more than 150 people dead in Western China. That has left a hole in President Obama’s schedule, as...
  • Did Obama's Sit Down With Putin Change Anything?

    White House officials have now done two readouts on what went down with President Obama and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at their meeting here in Moscow on Tuesday morning. The assessment: No major drama, at least not that they are talking about yet. We had wondered if Putin might try to exhibit some manliness to, you know, one up the new kid on the block. After all, we’re talking about a guy who once tranquilized a tiger in front of the cameras. When President Bush visited Putin’s house a few years ago, the then-Russian prez tried to show Bush up by bragging that his dog was better than then-official White House canine Barney—this according to W. himself, who laughed about the episode later in a talk with reporters at the White House. Did Putin try to besmirch Bo? No word on that, but White House officials have repeated again and again, with some surprise, how well Obama and Putin seemed to get on—citing, among other things, that the meeting went longer than planned. ...
  • Obama Reiterates Support for Public Plan

    As he prepares to leave Russia and head to Italy for the G8, President Obama has understandably been focused heavily on foreign policy the past few days. But the White House in an interesting move released a statement from Obama this afternoon on an increasingly heated issue back home: health care reform. Obama's statement walked back an interview Rahm Emanuel, his chief of staff, gave to the Wall Street Journal Monday. In the interview, Emanuel implied the WH could deal with a reform bill that doesn’t include a so-called public plan--a cornerstone of what Obama has been proposing since the camaign. “'The goal is to have a means and a mechanism to keep the private insurers honest, " Emanuel told the WSJ. "The goal is non-negotiable; the path is negotiable." Oh yeah? Well someone didn’t think so, and the White House issued a short statement from the prez contradicting his top aide. “I am pleased by the progress we're making on health care reform and...
  • Fact Check: When Did Obama Meet His Wife?

    Did President Obama make a flub today when talking about when he met his wife, Michelle? Just before his speech to a university here in Moscow this afternoon, Obama mentioned his first meeting with the future First Lady in an offhand remark. “I don’t know if anybody else will meet their future wife or husband in class like I did, but I’m sure you’ll all going to have wonderful careers,” the president said. The thing is: Obama didn’t technically meet his wife at school. Although both are Harvard Law School grads, Michelle Obama got her degree in the spring of 1988 while her future husband didn’t actually start school there until later that fall. (He graduated in 1991). The Obamas officially met in Chicago in 1989, when the future president was a summer associate at the Sidley Austin law firm and Michelle was assigned as his mentor. Was what Obama said wrong? Technically no, considering Obama was still going to school when he met his wife. But for those keeping close watch on Obama...
  • Obama Hits Russia on Democracy, Human Rights

    In his speech here in Moscow today, President Obama pushed for a more cooperative and trusting relationship between the U.S. and Russia, but that didn’t stop him from delivering some tough words when it comes to the country’s track record on democracy. “By no means is America perfect, but it is our commitment to certain universal values which allows us to correct our imperfections and to grow stronger over time,” Obama said. He cited his own experience, noting that if democracy did not advance “competitive elections” that he as an African American “wouldn’t be able to address you as an American citizen, much less a President.” White House aides say he repeated the same message in private to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. An excerpt of the speech is after the jump, courtesy the White House....
  • Is Obama's PR Message In Russia Working?

    Your Gaggler is in the press pool today, and I can now report first hand: the Russians really aren’t that excited about President Obama. Almost every trip, foreign and domestic, Obama has been the subject of curious, often cheering crowds. On domestic trips, some people even show up to boo. Not here. On the ride to and from Vladamir Putin’s house in Western Moscow, most Russians on the street this morning regarded Obama’s motorcade with total indifference. No cheering. No booing. It’s been a whole lot of, well, nothing. The motorcade route is usually sprinkled with dozens and dozens of people taking photos of Obama and his entourage as his limo passes. This morning, your Gaggler counted a grand total of four. ...
  • At Last, Obama and Putin Meet

    On Tuesday morning, President Obama drove about 25 minutes outside of central Moscow to have breakfast with Vladimir Putin, Russia’s former president turned prime minister. The meeting was highly anticipated to say the least. As your Gaggler noted yesterday, pretty much everybody seems to think Putin is still running the show here in Moscow, although Obama and the White House, when asked, won’t even go there. Here’s one telling sign: Obama visited Putin in the compound where he lived as president, Novo Ogaryovo. According to the locals, Putin liked it so much that when his term ended as president, he just decided to stay on, leaving current Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to find alternate housing. Today’s meeting was the first time Obama and Putin had ever met. Upon arrival, Putin met Obama outside for a quick handshake, before they headed upstairs to an ornate living room, where they briefly spoke to reporters. The initial meeting was cordial, but in your Gaggler’s view, it see...
  • From Medvedev, With Love

    No one should ever forget their first visit to a nuclear storage site. According to local media here in Moscow, one of President Medvedev’s ceremonial gifts to President Obama this week was a photo album documenting Obama’s last visit to Russia in 2005. The album reportedly includes photos of then-Sen. Obama touring a nuclear warhead storage site with other members of Congress as well as a missile disposal site. Ah memories. But that wasn’t all Obama received. The Russian prez also gifted POTUS a collection of historical documents, including letters from Tsar Alexander II to Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. No word yet from the White House on what Obama gave Medvedev.
  • WH 'Deeply Concerned' Over Violence in China

    At least 150 people have been killed and more than 800 injured in China’s western Xinjiang province today after rioting broke out between ethnic Muslim Uighurs and members of China’s Han majority. Asked for his reaction during the presser today in Moscow, President Obama declined to comment, telling reporters he didn’t want to say anything until he had been fully briefed. Hours later, administration officials still aren't saying much. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs just issued an official statement on behalf of the administration, basically repeating a no comment. “We are deeply concerned over reports of many deaths and injuries from violence in Urumqi in western China,” Gibbs said in a written statement. “Reports, so far, are unclear about the circumstances surrounding the deaths and injuries, so it would be premature to comment or speculate further. We call on all in Xinjiang to exercise restraint.” The violence has been watched very closely here in Moscow, as the...
  • Who's Really Running the Show in Russia?

    There was a funny moment during President Obama’s presser with Russian Prez Dmitry Medvedev this evening. The Associated Press’s Ben Feller asked Obama about conventional wisdom in Russia and beyond that suggests Medvedev isn’t really running the show here in Moscow but that the strings are really being pulled by Vladimir Putin, the former president who is now prime minister. Who does Obama think is in charge? As Feller asked the question, Medvedev cocked an eyebrow and delivered what your Gaggler would describe as the classic stink eye. For his part, Obama didn't go there. He said he'd be meeting Putin for the first time tomorrow and that he was anticipating the sit down. (Me too, Mr. President.) “My understanding is that President Medvedev is the president; Prime Minister Putin is the prime minister,” Obama said. “And they allocate power in accordance with Russia’s form of government, in the same way we allocate power in the United States.” It was at this precise moment...
  • Obama and Medvedev Reach Tentative Agreement on Nukes

    A day after talks seemed in doubt, President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a preliminary agreement that if ultimately approved would dramatically reduce each country’s stockpile of nuclear weapons. The agreement, which must ultimately be approved by Congress, would replace an arms control treaty set to expire this December. What Obama and Medvedev signed today specifically instructions negotiators as they work toward a final agreement, but White House officials acknowledged its hardly a done deal. The so-called “joint understanding” commits the U.S. and Russia to reduce their strategic warheads to a range of 1,500 to 1,675 weapons, down from a limit of 2,200 set by George W. Bush and Vladamir Putin in a treaty set to take effect in 2012. Today’s tentative deal would also limit so-called delivery vehicles to a range between 500 and 1,000—down from the Bush/Putin treaty that would limit those to 1,600. The two leaders also agreed on what the White House described...
  • The WH Briefing Room Isn't Quite Like This

    The dirty little secret about presidential foreign trips: There is A LOT of hurry up and wait. In about two hours, President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will hold a news conference. For now, reporters are holding in perhaps the most opulent press filing center your Gaggler has ever seen. We're inside the Kremlin Palace, in a huge room featuring massive gold chandeliers and lots of ornate woodwork, including handpainted wood floors. There are at least three gold-plated fireplaces. Not too shabby.
  • Obama Talks to Kremlin Critics

    The White House just released a transcript of President Obama’s written interview with Novaya Gazeta, a Russian opposition newspaper that has a long history of fighting with the Kremlin. The interview isn’t incredibly newsworthy: Obama pledges that a push for human rights will included in his negotiations with top Russian leaders and praises Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s efforts on judicial reform. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the interview is that Obama gave it at all. Novaya Gazeta is known for its investigative reporting and commentaries critical of the Kremlin, particularly Vladimir Putin—whom the paper has lambasted for rolling back freedoms in Russia. The reporting didn’t sit well: Four of its reporters have been murdered in the last eight years, most recently in January. Most of the killings remain unsolved, including the death of its most famous reporter, Anna Politkovskya, who was shot in 2006.  During his eight years in office, Putin refused to talk to...
  • Obama Arrives in Moscow

    President Obama just arrived in Moscow. First stop: He and First Lady Michelle Obama will lay flowers at the Russian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, just off Red Square. Then it’s off to the Kremlin, where Obama will meet one on one with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. They’ll have a press conference later this afternoon--er well, morning to you guys back home. Two things of note so far: Local TV did not show Air Force One’s arrival in Moscow so maybe there's something to those reports about the Russians being totally blasé about the president of the United States being in town. (Your Gaggler and other reporters not in the press pool today instead were witness to yet another interview with Jermaine Jackson. Thanks CNN!) And in another strange weather development, it’s suddenly not raining anymore.  It had been pouring buckets, so much so that your Gaggler had made a few bad jokes about building an ark. (Yes, we know. We won’t quit our day job.) But within minutes of Obama’s...
  • Obama to the Russians: My Golf Swing Sucks

    What does President Obama dislike about himself?  His golf swing. Your Gaggler thinks that’s sort of a lame answer (Come on Mr. President! Golf?), but that’s what Obama told an interviewer from Russia’s state-run Rossiya TV and ITAR-TASS news agency ahead of his trip to Moscow. “I don’t like my golf swing,” Obama said, according to a transcript released by the White House. “It’s a game I keep on thinking that I should be good at, and somehow the ball goes this way and that way and never goes straight.” It’s not for lack of trying: Obama has been golfing more than a dozen times since he moved into the White House. He’s golfed at least once every weekend for the past month, including this past Saturday when he the links at Andrews Air Force Base ahead of a July 4th barbecue at the White House. This isn’t the first time Obama has bemoaned his golf skills. In an interview with CBS’s Harry Smith last month, Obama confessed that he’s “terrible” at the game but that he won’t stop because...
  • From Russia, With Love

    Good morning from Russia! Your Gaggler is in a very rainy Moscow awaiting the arrival of President Obama who is scheduled to land here in a few hours. He’ll spend the next three days meeting with top Russian leaders, including President Dmitry Medvedev and former president turned Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Your Gaggler wrote an opus last week going over what this trip is all about. But we’ll sum it up again here in just one word: “reset.” Obama is hoping to turn the page on what has been chilly relations between the U.S. and Russia in hopes of finding new common goals. But that looks increasingly difficult, given the widening differences between the Washington and Moscow on issues like Iran and the U.S.’s plans for a missile defense shield. Administration officials had hoped to announce significant progress on a the renegotiation of a nuclear arms treaty that Obama and Medvedev announced at their first meeting last April in London. But last night, a senior White House official ...
  • Obama on Putin, Pies and GITMO

    Here's more from President Obama's interview this morning with the Associated Press’s Jennifer Loven:On Russia, Obama was asked why he plans to meet with former Russian President Vladimir Putin in addition to talks with current leader Dmitry Medvedev. “(Putin) still has a lot of sway…and I think that it's important that even as we move forward with President Medvedev that Putin understand that the old Cold War approaches to U.S.-Russian relations is outdated — that's it's time to move forward in a different direction,” Obama told the AP. “"I think Medvedev understands that. I think Putin has one foot in the old ways of doing business and one foot in the new, and to the extent that we can provide him and the Russian people a clear sense that the U.S. is not seeking an antagonistic relationship but wants cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation, fighting terrorism, energy issues, that we'll end up having a stronger partner overall in this process.”...
  • Biden Makes Surprise Visit to Baghdad

    Vice President Joe Biden just landed in Baghdad in a surprise two-day visit to Iraq. According to the White House, Biden is there to meet with U.S. military officials and troops and will sit down with Iraqi political leaders including President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The trip comes on the heels of Biden’s new Iraq duties. As Newsweek was first to report, President Obama has asked Biden to take the lead on Iraq policy with the goal of encouraging Iraqi political leaders to get their act together. Here’s part of my write-up from Newsweek's latest issue:Biden's role will be something of an unofficial envoy to Iraq, though he won't handle day-to-day dealings with officials on the ground. The goal is to "raise the level" in hopes that Biden's stature encourages Iraqi officials to bridge their political differences, says a senior administration official who didn't want to be named talking about high-level personnel decisions. ...
  • As Obama Heads to Russia, the 'Reset' Faces Its First Test

    When President Obama met Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for the first time last April, both men called for a new day in relations between the two countries. Obama said he wanted to push the “reset” button, while Medvedev called for an end to the “drift” in the U.S./Russian dynamic. They pledged to forge a more pragmatic relationship than their predecessors, George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin, who bonded personally even as ties between Russia and the U.S. sank to new lows. Obama did not want to be “buddy buddy” with Medvedev, a senior administration official told reporters at the time. The White House, according to the official, wanted to forge something “more substantial,” a rapport of “candor and frankness” that would produce real results....
  • Who Gets Paid What in the Obama White House

    How much does Jon Favreau get paid to write President Obama’s speeches? According to a list of salaries released today by the White House, Obama’s chief speechwriter makes $172,200 a year—the top salary possible in the West Wing. Favreau, who is paid on par with what President Bush’s chief speechwriter was paid in 2008, earns the same salary as 19 other top administration officials, including Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, advisers David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, National Security Adviser Jim Jones and economic adviser Larry Summers. The list, which is provided to Congress annually by the White House, includes staffers in the Executive Office of the President, including the first lady’s office and the Domestic Policy Council. (Vice President Biden’s staff salaries are typically disclosed in a separate report to the Senate.) Among the highlights: Social Secretary Desiree Rogers, who makes $113,000; Stephanie Cutter, who is leading the Sonia Sotomayor’s...
  • What is Mark Sanford Thinking?

    Who is advising Mark Sanford these days? That’s what your Gaggler is wondering, considering the embattled South Carolina governor will not stop treating the media as a confessional. In two days of interviews with the Associated Press, Sanford not only owned up to still being in love with the Argentine woman he cheated on his wife with, but he confessed to having “crossed the lines” with other women in the past—though he insists he didn’t have sex with them. Sanford admitted that he’d seen his mistress, now identified as Maria Belen Chapur, more often than he’d initially admitted and described her as his “soul mate.” “This was a whole lot more than a simple affair, this was a love story,” the governor told the AP. “A forbidden one, a tragic one, but a love story at the end of the day.” And Sanford is coming clean with all this, even as he says he wants to reconcile with his wife, Jenny, whom he is "trying to fall back in love with." Yikes. We can only guess at the advice...
  • Can Obama Sell Health Care Reform Without Getting Too Specific?

    President Obama heads to the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., today to hold a health care town hall. It’s the second time in a week that Obama has taken questions from the public on reform efforts. Last Wednesday, Obama participated in an ABC News forum on the topic at the White House. Today, Obama will take questions from a live audience, as well as those submitted via Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. It’s all a part of Obama’s efforts to use his own political popularity to get health care reform through Congress. This marks a bit of a strategy change for the White House. Initially, Obama tried to take a hands-off approach to the legislation, allowing Congress to take the lead. The plan seemed based on not repeating the mistakes of the Clinton White House which saw its reform efforts go down the tubes in 1993 when it took a heavy-handed approach to the bill, as opposed to letting lawmakers run the show. But Obama is far more popular than Bill Clinton was, and Democrats want the...
  • Jim Jones: Diminished Clout?

    Where has Jim Jones been? As the White House navigated its response to the Iran crisis, President Obama's national-security adviser was nowhere to be seen. In fact, Jones was out of the country dealing with another thorny issue on Obama's plate: the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan. An administration official, who didn't want to be named discussing internal logistics, tells NEWSWEEK the trip had been in the works long before the surge of violence in Iran—and that Obama understood its importance and had encouraged Jones to not reschedule.But Jones's absence at the height of what has been Obama's biggest foreign-policy crisis led to additional speculation about his clout. Some have suggested the former general hasn't been a good fit in Obamaland, a PR problem fueled, in part, by Jones himself. He has been perhaps the least--visible national-security adviser in more than a decade. While Condi Rice and Sandy Berger were highly interactive with the press and enjoyed close...
  • Biden's Brief Expands to Include Iraq

    Vice President Joe Biden's official portfolio is expanding. NEWSWEEK has learned that President Obama has asked Biden to take the lead role on Iraq as the U.S. begins its scheduled drawdown of combat troops, a move that comes as administration officials are expressing concerns about the uptick in violence and political instability in the region.Biden's role will be something of an unofficial envoy to Iraq, though he won't handle day-to-day dealings with officials on the ground. The goal is to "raise the level" in hopes that Biden's stature encourages Iraqi officials to bridge their political differences, says a senior administration official who didn't want to be named talking about high-level personnel decisions. "He knows the players," White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel tells NEWSWEEK. "He brings a lot of experience and expertise on this issue to the table, and the president trusts him."While they insist that overall incidents of violence in Iraq remain low, Obama and his...
  • Flashback: Michael Jackson at the White House

      The Gaggle is usually a blog focused on politics, but we’d be remiss not to mention some of the moments when Washington intersects with pop culture. To mark Michael Jackson’s sudden death this afternoon, your Gaggler thought it might be appropriate to remember the King of Pop’s visit to the White House back in 1984 as a guest of Ronald Reagan. "Well, isn't this a Thriller," Reagan joked. Jackson, who was 25 at the time, was given a plaque for allowing his song “Beat It” to be used in the administration’s anti-drunk driving ads aimed at teenagers. There was no moonwalking, but Jackson was wearing his signature look of the early 1980s, including sequined socks and that one glittered glove. "I'm very very honored," Jackson said shyly, as he was interrupted by the shreiks of fans on the South Lawn. "Thank you very much, Mr. President and Mrs. Reagan."
  • Sanford to Reimburse Cost of Previous Argentina Trip

    Your Gaggler wondered yesterday if Mark Sanford would have to own up to using any state funds to either facilitate or cover up his infidelity. Now comes word via his press office that the South Carolina governor will reimburse the state for a junket to Argentina he took a year ago, which is when the affair apparently started. Here’s Sanford's statement:As noted by the Department of Commerce, I attended a trade mission with the Department of Commerce last June. As the agenda notes, the mission was spent meeting with government and private business officials in both Brazil and Argentina. This trip was handled very professionally by the Department of Commerce, and I'm proud of their work there. However, while the purpose of this trip was an entirely professional and appropriate business development trip, I made a mistake while I was there in meeting with the woman who I was unfaithful to my wife with. That has raised some very legitimate concerns and questions, and as such I...
  • Palin Still Rules, But Romney is Gaining

    Who stands to benefit the most from Mark Sanford’s troubles? Well, amid all the news yesterday, we missed this new poll the finds Mitt Romney's numbers are inching up, not just among Republicans but the general public According to the latest Pew survey, 40 percent of those surveyed viewed Romney “favorably”—about a 10 percent increase compared to February 2008 when he quit the GOP presidential primary. Still, Sarah Palin remains the most popular GOP figure, with a 45 percent favorable rating. Among Republicans alone, Palin is WAY more popular than Romney, with a 73 percent favorable rating compared to Romney’s 57 percent. And that’s a very important number—after all a candidate has to make it through the GOP primary first.The good news for Romney: While she remains enormously popular among Republicans, Palin’s numbers have been pretty steady since last fall, while Romney is moving up. According to Pew, Romney has made equal gains among both conservative Republicans and those...
  • News Flash: Sanford Also Likes Chick Flicks

    The State newspaper publishes more of those Mark Sanford emails today, and now we’re getting more of the back story on how those messages were obtained and why the paper chose to not print them until now. As your Gaggler mentioned yesterday, the State reports that it had the Sanford emails since December. According to the New York Times, which has a nice write-up on the press’s handling of the affair, someone forwarded the emails to the paper anonymously. A State reporter then contacted “Maria” via her e-mail address in an attempt to confirm their authenticity, but never heard back. They apparently did not approach Sanford’s office. “What it was, was a puzzle piece that was hardly discernible,” the paper’s political editor tells the Times. But the paper didn’t really pursue it further, in part because reporters were so skeptical that Sanford might be a cheater. By their own account, Sanford was a weirdo, but an adulterer? No way. The paper still doesn’t know who sent the emails—a...
  • Ick Watch: Sanford's Emails to His Mistress

    Speaking of other shoes to drop, the State newspaper down in South Carolina has published a series of emails between Gov. Mark Sanford and the woman in Argentina with whom he had an affair. The woman, identified only as “Maria,” refused to talk one of the paper’s reporters today when approached at her home in Buenos Aires, but the governor’s office doesn’t dispute the content of the emails, which date back to roughly one year ago. In the story, the State discloses that it's been in posession of the emails since December. (Oh really? What's the backstory there?) Warning: These emails are super cheesy, even for your Gaggler who will own up to watching the occasional episode of Days of Our Lives. (The guy who played Chris Kositchek now playing Roman? What is that about?) Here’s an excerpt of one Sanford love email to his beloved. Don’t say we didn’t warn you:Two, mutual feelings .... You have a particular grace and calm that I adore. You have a level of sophistication that so...
  • After Sanford, What Do Republicans Do Now?

    Mark Sanford’s decision to come clean about his extramarital affair today is just the beginning of the story. There will inevitably be other shoes to drop: What did his staff know? Did any state employees lie for him? Did Sanford use any state funds to facilitate or conceal his affair? After all, the South Carolina governor did take off in his official vehicle last Thursday when he made his secret getaway to Buenos Aires. Will he be forced to resign the governor’s office? While we’ve seen politicians bounce back from bad behavior before (just ask Bill Clinton or Newt Gingrich), all of this means Sanford’s 2012 presidential aspirations are likely over. But the bigger question is: What do Republicans do now?It was barely a week ago that Sen. John Ensign, another GOP rising star, admitted his own affair. Ensign, though still largely a political unknown nationally, had been tagged by many within the party as an up-and-comer with the ability to help the GOP rebuild in the era of Obama....
  • Mark Sanford Admits Extramarital Affair

    In an emotional press conference this afternoon, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford admitted that he had been cheating on his wife with a woman in Argentina, where he had been secretly vacationing the past six days. Sanford, who announced he was resigning his post as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, repeatedly apologized to his wife and kids and to his staff, whom he admitted misleading about his whereabouts. The governor’s aides told reporters yesterday that Sanford was hiking the Appalachian Trail, when in fact he was in Buenos Aires. “I’ve been unfaithful to my wife, and I developed a relationship with what started as a dear dear friend from Argentina,” Sanford said, tearfully....
  • Obama and the Art of Presidential Stagecraft

    Did the White House plant questions at President Obama’s news conference yesterday? The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank has a good write-up explaining the whole dust-up about Obama’s decision to call on a blogger from the Huffington Post who had apparently been asked to attend the presser Tuesday by administration officials. Nico Pitney, who has been blogging about the election in Iran, was escorted to a front line position by an Obama press aide just moments before the president himself came to the podium. To the surprise of many reporters in the room, Pitney got to ask the second question. (The first went to the Associated Press, which is WH tradition.) ...