Holly Bailey

Stories by Holly Bailey

  • Missing Governor Returns...From Argentina

    Mark Sanford has been found! The South Carolina governor was spotted this morning in Atlanta, where, surprise surprise, he was not actually hiking the Appalachian Trail as his staff had said. Rather, Sanford had been in Argentina, tootling around Buenos Aires. How did his staff come to think he was hiking Appalachians? “I don’t know,” Sanford told the State newspaper this morning, as a reporter captured him arriving back in the United States. “I wanted to do something exotic.” Mission accomplished. It was the first time in almost a week that Sanford had been seen. The governor disappeared last Thursday, leaving his staff, family and fellow legislators in the lurch. His wife insisted she wasn’t worried, even though she hadn’t heard from him, while his staff seemed to imply they had talked to him, even though his cell phone was apparently off. Sanford didn’t tell any of his fellow lawmakers he was leaving town, including Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who would feasibly be in charge should...
  • Ouch: Clinton's Fractured Elbow

    Here’s the latest from the White House’s Flickr feed: A photo of President Obama with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who fractured her right elbow last week.
  • SC Gov Reportedly Found, But Questions Continue

    The Mark Sanford story just gets stranger. Late last night, Sanford’s staff came clean about the South Carolina governor’s previously undisclosed location: They say he’s hiking the Appalachian Trail this week—although they won’t say exactly where. But this has done little to appease his critics who say Sanford should have let people know where he was going in case of a state emergency of some kind. Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer tells Politico that he believes his office was misled by Sanford’s staff, who he says didn’t actually know where the governor was despite their claims. According to Politico, Bauer called Sanford’s office Monday and requested an “immediate phone conversation with the governor.” “That request was denied because the governor’s chief of staff does not know where the governor is and has not communicated with the governor since he left South Carolina last Thursday,” Bauer told Politico. “I cannot take lightly that his staff has not had communication with him for more than...
  • South Carolina Governor Missing?

    Now this is a strange story: South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford left his executive mansion on Thursday night and hasn’t been seen since. According to the Associated Press, his wife doesn’t know where he is, ditto for his security detail who hasn’t been able to reach him. Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who would presumably be in charge, doesn’t know what’s going on. His office has been told by Sanford’s office that he’s been located and is fine--though they seem unwilling to provide any details. "He was writing something and wanted some space to get away from the kids," First Lady Jenny Sanford told AP this morning. She said she didn't know where her husband was, but wasn't concerned. According to the State newspaper, both of the governor’s cell phones—his state phone and his personal cell—have been turned off. His last known whereabouts had been near Atlanta because a mobile phone tower picked up a signal from one of those phones. Sanford (or someone pretending to him?) has...
  • Hello, President Obama Calling...

    The White House usually sends reporters “readouts” of President Obama’s phone calls to foreign leaders, summarizing what the Commander in Chief said to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, etc. So this morning, your Gaggler was a bit surprised to see two emails detailing Obama’s phone calls with… professional sports coaches? According to the White House, Obama phoned the Los Angeles Lakers’ Phil Jackson and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Dan Bylsma to congratulate them on their recent championship wins. While it doesn't say how long the phone calls lasted, it's pretty obvious Obama was way more interested in talking to Jackson. According to the White House, the two discussed "the president's interest in the Lakers' innovative triangle offense." Ooh, someone getting some tips here? The summaries, courtesy the White House, after the jump....
  • Gibbs: We're On the Same Page, I Swear!

    Remember that internal discord over how President Obama is handling Iran? Forget it! Everything is swell! On the record, at least. Here's White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs at the briefing this afternoon:...
  • What is John Edwards Thinking?

    John Edwards gives a lengthy interview to the Washington Post today, his first since he admitted last summer that he’d had an affair with a campaign videographer after lying about it for months and months. It’s not that we haven’t seen him around. Your Gaggler thinks Edwards doesn’t deserve much sympathy for cheating on his wife, but it was hard not to cringe when Oprah confronted him about it during her interview in May with Elizabeth Edwards, who recently published a memoir based in part on the whole icky situation.  (In fact, for the record, we’re pretty disgusted with everybody involved in that shoot: Bringing the Edwards kids out to hug Oprah when she pulled up in front of the house in the SUV? Just plain awful.) But John Edwards can’t seem to let it go. The Post’s story today is about how Edwards is trying to lay low and be humble but he still aches to think of what could have been and how he wishes there was someone (someone like him?) speaking out for the poor people. "...
  • Want Access to Obama? Learn to Play Basketball

    Washington is a funny place. It wasn’t so long ago that people were learning to ride mountain bikes, in hopes of being one of the chosen few to join George W. Bush on one of his rides here in Washington or at his Texas ranch. Now, ESPN’s Wright Thompson has a pretty great piece on how the powerful in Washington are picking up the game of basketball, all in hopes of shooting hoops with the most famous baller in town, President Obama. There’s Rep. Baron Hill, a former high school basketball star, working on his jump shots. "I stayed away from the game," the five-term Democrat tells ESPN, "and here I am shooting hoops again. And it's because of him. If I ever have an opportunity to play with him, I want to be able to halfway get around that court well enough." And then there’s all the Cabinet secretaries in training, including Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Lobbyists, members of Congress and reps at trade industry groups are all taking lessons. Even the junior...
  • Clinton Fractures Elbow, Has to Cancel on Angelina

    First Sonia Sotomayor fractured her ankle. Now comes word that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fractured her elbow yesterday. According to a statement issued late last night, Clinton was on her way to the White House when she slipped and fell, injuring her right elbow. She was taken to a local hospital here in Washington, and according to an aide, she’ll undergo surgery to repair her elbow next week. Ick. That means Clinton’s had to clear her schedule, and unlike Sotomayor, she wasn’t just meeting with a long list of boring old senators. Clinton had been scheduled to appear alongside actress Angelina Jolie today to mark World Refugee Day. Your Gaggler was on Team Aniston once upon a time—We’re are now of the opinion that fighting over Brad is sooooo 2005—but missing out on seeing Angie's new tattoo? Total bummer.
  • Internal Discord Over Obama's Iran Response?

    It’s not just Republicans who are unhappy with President Obama’s muted response to what’s happening in Iran. There’s apparently an internal divide at the White House over how tough or not Obama should be. According to the New York Times this morning, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden “would like to strike a stronger tone in support of protestors” while “other White House officials have counseled a more cautious approach.” Obama has clearly sided with the latter, saying he doesn’t want to be seen as “meddling” in the Iranian elections. What’s interesting to your Gaggler is this is only second or third time we’ve heard about internal discontent coming from this very buttoned down, very on message, very “all is great” White House. So who leaked this out?
  • Obama: LGBT Benefits Memo "Just a Start"

    As expected, President Obama this evening signed an executive memo authorizing some additional benefits to the same sex partners of federal employees. A copy of the actual memo is here, along with a lengthy statement in which Obama emphasizes this is “just a start.” Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Obama said the law doesn’t allow him to go as far as he’d like and announced his support for legislation in Congress that would guarantee “all rights” including health insurance and pension benefits for domestic partners of federal employees. As he spoke, Obama was surrounded by representatives of many gay rights groups who have criticized his administration’s stance on equality issues in recent days, including the Human Rights Campaign. Obama specifically brought up the Defense of Marriage Act, which his administration defended in a controversial legal brief last week, and repeated his support for its repeal. “I believe it's discriminatory, I think it interferes with states...
  • Is Obama At Odds with DOJ On DOMA?

    Your Gaggler is starting to sense a pattern at the White House. For two straight days, on two very different subjects, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has defended a move that seems counter to what President Obama said during the campaign by seeming to punt the blame on the folks who made the rules before them. On Tuesday, it was the Obama administration’s decision to reject a request to make visitor logs to the White House public. According to Gibbs, the “previous policy” is under review but until then the White House will stick with the status quo, i.e., no visitor logs released, no way. Today, Gibbs was asked about Obama’s position on the Defense of Marriage Act, which Obama has said repeatedly he wants to repeal. As we’ve noted several times, the Obama Justice Department entered a controversial legal brief last week defending DOMA—which included language and implications that irked many of Obama’s top gay supporters. At today’s briefing, ABC’s Jake Tapper asked Gibbs if...
  • Obama No Stranger to Fly Attacks

    Your Gaggler is still laughing about President Obama’s run-in with that fly at the White House yesterday. “That’s the most persistent fly I’ve ever seen,” commented CNBC’s John Harwood, who was the closest witness to the attack. What was that fly thinking, trying to interrupt the freaking president of the United States during a very important television interview? Well, this could be a larger conspiracy than we thought. Courtesy New York Magazine, here’s video of a fly going after Obama during an interview on the campaign trail last year. This one buzzed Obama not just once but several times, but the future prez didn’t swat to kill as he did yesterday. He just ended the interview. Was he worried about denting his likability numbers in the polls? Did he lack the bold fortitude that comes with being the Commander in Chief? Answers escape us. But the clear lesson here: You can’t back down from a fight. Not even with a fly. They always come back.
  • Can Obama Win Back the Gay Community?

    In what initially looked like a big deal for the gay community, the White House put out word last night that President Obama will sign a “memo” today to extend benefits to same sex partners of federal workers. Early reports suggested those benefits would include the right to health insurance, which, if true, would have gone far in soothing some of the tension between the White House and gay rights activists, who have accused Obama of breaking campaign promises to promote equality for gays and lesbians. But the president's move today likely won't be as far reaching as some had hoped.While we still don’t know exactly what Obama will sign—he’s scheduled to sign the memo and talk to reporters at 5:45 this afternoon—it appears that whatever he does won’t go as far as providing health benefits. That’s because under the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government cannot provide health insurance to same sex partners. And that’s where it gets very touchy. During the...
  • No One Messes with Obama. Not Even a Fly.

    H/T to our pal Michael Scherer over at Brand X, this video makes your Gaggler's day. John Harwood's commentary is priceless, though did President Obama really smash that thing with his hand? No offense, Mr. President, but yuck.
  • Obama Issues Statement on Afghan Elections

    President Obama has said twice in the last 24 hours that he doesn’t want to be seen as meddling in Iran’s political process. Now here comes this written statement from Obama on the upcoming elections in Afghanistan. We’ve posted the full statement just issued by the White House below, but here’s the jist: Whoever wins, we’ll work with them. It’s not hard to read between the lines here. For months, administration officials have been defending what some have described as “strained” ties between the White House and current Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whom some folks in Obamaland just don’t trust. The White House has tried to make nice with Karzai, even as some administration officials anonymously hint they wouldn’t mind working with someone else. Recently, they’ve tried to dial back. At a briefing on Afghanistan policy in May, a senior administration official repeatedly insisted the U.S. has no stake in the campaign beyond seeing that the democratic process was fair and just. “In...
  • After Netanyahu's Speech, Israel's Top Diplomat Comes to DC

    Bowing to pressure from President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a major speech over the weekend that he’d accept a Palestinian state, as long as it was demilitarized and recognized Israel as a Jewish state. Now Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is on a 10-day tour to gauge the international reaction. Yesterday, he met with the European Union and is expected to land tonight in Washington, where he’ll meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and various members of Congress. (No meeting with Obama or Vice President Biden--not yet, anyway.) NEWSWEEK’s Rebecca Shabad spoke with Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, former U.S. - Middle East negotiator and author of The Much Too Promised Land to preview the foreign minister’s visit. Excerpts:...
  • Obama Blocks Access to WH Visitor Logs

    Will the Obama White House make its visitor logs public? Administration officials have launched a formal review in the wake of a lawsuit filed Tuesday by a Washington ethics group that has been trying to gain access under the Freedom of Information Act to a list of those who have come to see administration officials in recent months. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, who previously sued the Bush administration for similar records, had requested names of any coal executives who have visited Obama officials during the first few months of the administration. The request was denied, as was a similar request to the administration from MSNBC, which asked for the names of everybody who had visited the White House since Inauguration Day. Asked about the logs during the press briefing today, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the policy is under review by the White House Counsel's office, though he declined to say how long the review could last. Asked if the administration still...
  • Obama Has "Deep Concerns" About Iran's Election

    Speaking to reporters at the White House this morning, President Obama went a teeeeensy bit further on Iran than he did in his remarks yesterday, saying that he had “deep concerns” about the election. (On Monday, he said he was “deeply troubled” by the violence.) Here’s what Obama said, courtesy the White House:...
  • Should Obama Be Talking Tougher About Iran?

    Perhaps not surprisingly, the White House has been very careful about how it responds to what is happening in Iran right now. Speaking out for the first time since Friday’s disputed election results, President Obama said late yesterday that Iranians have a right to have their votes counted, but didn’t go further—and quickly noted why. “It is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran's leaders will be, that we respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran, which sometimes the United States can be a handy political football,” Obama told reporters. “Having said all that, I am deeply troubled by the violence that I've been seeing on television.  I think that the democratic process -- free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent -- all those are universal values and need to be respected.  And whenever I see violence perpetrated on people who are peacefully dissenting, and whenever the American people see that, I...
  • Is Sotomayor Really a Bully or Are People Just Sexist?

    NPR’s Nina Totenberg had an interesting piece on Morning Edition this morning looking at the main rap against Sonia Sotomayor. Long story short, people have said she’s pushy, going so far as to describe her as “bully” on the bench. The labels have been circulating for months, long before Sotomayor was actually named as Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. Since then, the White House has gone to great lengths to push back against the claims, producing clerks and lawyers who have worked with Sotomayor who insist she’s just fine. But the rumors just won’t go away. More recently, Sen. Lindsay Graham has cited reviews mentioned in The Almanac of the Federal Judiciary, which included anonymous comments describing her as a “terror on the bench” and “overly aggressive.” But is the criticism legitimate or is it, as some Sotomayor allies suggest, a case of her being picked on for being a strong woman? For the piece, Totenberg listened to audio recordings of two oral arguments made before...
  • Gibbs: I Don't Want to Parse the Word Pissed...

    At the White House briefing today, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about news reports that the British government was not exactly thrilled to be in the dark about the decision to transfer four Chinese Muslim prisoners, known as Uighurs, from Guantanamo Bay to Bermuda this week. The Brits have told Bermuda, one of its territories, that they should have been consulted first, and the issue looks to also be causing drama between the U.S. and folks at 10 Downing Street. “They’re pissed,” an unnamed State Department official told ABC News yesterday. At the briefing, Gibbs was asked about the quote, which turned into a lot of talk about who was "pissed" at who:...
  • Dear Spock, Obama Feels Your Pain

    So Denzel Washington was on Letterman last night, where the subject of Barack Obama, the movie, came up. As you can see in the video above, Washington put his thumbs behind his ears and pushed them forward, mimicking Obama’s more prominent ears. Denzel! “Now I’m in trouble with the president,” he joked. We doubt it. As New York Magazine notes, Obama has led the way in making fun of his big ears, thus making it cool for everybody else to do so. They’ve put together a helpful video and photo slideshow titled, you guessed it, “Barack Obama’s Ears: A History.” Until now, your Gaggler didn't realize that Obama sort of has a complex about his ears. There's video of Obama talking about how his wife, Michelle, keeps him in check: She makes fun of his ears. There's also the interview, which Washington references to Letterman, where Obama talks about how he'd prefer Denzel to play him in a movie, but how it will likely be Will Smith. You see, the Fresh Prince, like Obama,...
  • Obama Woos Congress via Rahm's Cell Phone

    It’s not unusual for a president to phone up a member of Congress in the middle of the night to lobby for legislation, but this may be a first: the Commander in Chief talking to an impromptu meeting of lawmakers via a cell phone speaker? According to the Politico’s David Rogers, that’s what happened Thursday night when Obama intervened in stalled negotiations over the war supplemental bill. Senators, including John McCain, were looking for assurances from Obama that the administration will do what it takes to prevent the disclosure of controversial photos that allegedly show detainees being mistreated by members of the U.S. military. According to Rogers, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who was up on the Hill pushing for the bill, dialed up Obama on his cell phone and promptly put the president on speakerphone. “Good evening Angels!” Obama said. Well, ok, he likely didn’t say that, but your Gaggler is amused by the idea of Obama pulling a Charlie from Charlie's Angels...
  • Rumor Watch: Gates to Replace Jones at the WH?

    Over at Foreign Policy magazine, the very well-connected Tom Ricks, formerly of the Washington Post, says he’s “picking up the vibe” that some “powerful people” want to see Defense Secretary Robert Gates replace Jim Jones as President Obama’s national security adviser. A Pentagon spokesman shoots down the story, calling it “utterly and completely absurd”—though Ricks, for his part, seems to think he’s protesting a bit too much. Your Gaggler, for the record, hasn’t heard this rumor, but she’s heard the many others that have circulated around Washington in recent months that have suggested that Jones just isn’t quite fitting in at the White House.Administration officials have been hearing these whispers too—and they always deny them, insisting that things are all right and swell in Obamaland. But Jones’s PR problems haven’t gone away. He’s taken a much lower public profile than his predecessors in the Bush administration. When they had Jones’s job, Condi Rice and Stephen Hadley were ...
  • More Photos from the Obama Scrapbook

    Your Gaggler has said it before, and she’ll say it again: This White House is extremely smart about managing President Obama’s image. Yesterday, aides updated the official White House Flickr account with dozens of candid behind the scenes photos of Obama’s trip to the Middle East and Europe last week. It’s pure candy for people who like getting a glimpse behind the curtain. Even if it’s not the most private of moments—Obama clearly knows he’s being photographed—it’s more than we’ve seen in real time from other modern day presidents. In this particular set, there are photos of Obama roaming a Paris art museum with his daughters, a shot of Obama body guy Reggie Love showing the president and his aides pictures on his laptop (a Dell?!), and a photo of Obama wearing an Indiana Jones hat during his tour of the pyramids in Egypt. (Don’t quit your day job, Mr. President.) The White House’s message here: Obama is a real person, just like you and me.  He wears silly hats and mugs for the ca...
  • Gingrich Apologizes for Calling Sotomayor a Racist

    In a lengthy message posted on his Web site today, Newt Gingrich apologizes for calling Judge Sonia Sotomayor a “racist" over her comment that a "wise Latina woman" could reach a better decision than "a white male who hasn't lived that life." Here’s Gingrich:My initial reaction was strong and direct -- perhaps too strong and too direct.  The sentiment struck me as racist and I said so. Since then, some who want to have an open and honest consideration of Judge Sotomayor’s fitness to serve on the nation’s highest court have been critical of my word choice. With these critics who want to have an honest conversation, I agree.  The word “racist” should not have been applied to Judge Sotomayor as a person, even if her words themselves are unacceptable (a fact which both President Obama and his Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, have since admitted).That's not to say the former House Speaker is suddenly on the Sotomayor bandwagon. In the message, Gingrich...
  • Cheney More Liberal Than Obama on Gay Marriage

    Is Dick Cheney more liberal than Barack Obama? Yes, at least on one issue. Speaking at the National Press Club yesterday, Cheney reiterated his support for same-sex marriage, as long as the issue is decided by the states not the federal government. “People ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish, any kind of arrangement they wish,” That officially puts him to the left of President Obama, who has endorsed civil unions rather than marriage, for lesbians and gays. It’s not a new position for Cheney, whose youngest daughter, Mary, is gay. The former Veep has been saying the same thing for years, dating back to the 2000 vice presidential debate with Joe Lieberman. "We ought to do everything we can to tolerate and accommodate whatever kind of relationships people want to enter into," Cheney said back then....
  • Obama Feels Comfortable, REALLY Comfortable, with Sotomayor

    Twenty-two. That’s how many times White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs used the word “comfortable” during today’s press briefing when asked by reporters about President Obama and his conversations—or lack thereof—with Sonia Sotomayor specifically on her views on abortion and privacy rights. As Gibbs said yesterday, Obama didn’t bring up those topics with his Supreme Court nominee, and, as we learned today from Gibbs, neither did his staff. But grilled on the subject for the second day in a row, Gibbs said the president did talk to Sotomayor about her views on the Constitution. And guess what, Obama feels comfortable. “They talked about the theory of constitutional interpretation, generally, including her views on unremunerated rights in the Constitution and the theory of settled law,” Gibbs said. “He left very comfortable with her interpretation of the Constitution being similar to that of his.” In response to follow-ups, Gibbs added that Obama “feels comfortable that she shares...
  • Are We Really Having This Debate? Part Deux

    Your Gaggler thought she wouldn’t read anything more bizarre than that fight yesterday over how to pronounce Sonia Sotomayor’s last name, but not surprisingly, she was wrong. Via Talking Points Memo, we find this story from yesterday's edition of The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper, which takes a closer look at how Senate Republicans are gearing up to fight Sotomayer’s nomination. It seems the Repubs have taken great interest in a lecture Sotomayor gave in 2001 at the University of California at Berkeley law school, where she talked about how personal experiences shape judges—ie, a big no no in their book. But here’s the story gets weird:Sotomayor also claimed: “For me, a very special part of my being Latina is the mucho platos de arroz, gandoles y pernir — rice, beans and pork — that I have eaten at countless family holidays and special events.” This has prompted some Republicans to muse privately about whether Sotomayor is suggesting that distinctive Puerto Rican cuisine such...
  • On Abortion, Sotomayor Seems to Make Everyone Nervous

    While the White House is growing more confident by the day that there will be no knock down, drag out fight over Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court, there is some unease on both sides about the judge’s position on abortion. Abortion foes are angry because they believe Sotomayor would vote to sustain Roe v. Wade, but, as the New York Times notes this morning, abortion rights advocates aren’t so sure how she would rule. Part of this has to do with the fact that Sotomayor has never had to directly rule on a law regarding abortion. But yesterday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters at the daily briefing that President Obama had, in fact, not asked Sotomayor about abortion or privacy rights because the president, as he said, has no “litmus test.” That has caused some women’s rights groups to temper their support for Sotomayor, including NARAL Pro-Choice America, which has a banner on its home page at the moment calling for Sotomayor to get a “fair...