Holly Bailey

Stories by Holly Bailey

  • Bill Clinton Is Still A Little Upset About 2008

    The New York Times is out this afternoon with a preview of a profile of Bill Clinton running in its Sunday magazine this weekend. Written by Peter Baker, who covered Clinton’s final years in the White House for the Washington Post and who now covers President Obama for the Times, the piece is all about what the former president has been up to lately now that his wife is Secretary of State. There’s plenty of interesting scenes in the piece, starting with the opener: Clinton, looking at handbags and jewelry in Peru, confesses that he likes picking out gifts for his friends’ wives and girlfriends. The former president, who has now been out of the White House longer than he was in it, is an expert at craft stores around the world “and can tell you the best ones in Hong Kong or Arusha,” Baker writes. Thus goes the life of a former president.But it’s the underlying tension between Obama and Clinton that still lingers from the campaign that’s most telling in the piece. While it appears...
  • Biden Jokes About Obama and Teleprompters

    Vice President Joe Biden is in Colorado today, where he addressed graduating cadets at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs this morning. The ceremony was outdoors, and according to local reports, it was very windy, prompting one of Biden's two Teleprompters to blow over during the speech. The Veep couldn’t help but make a joke, alluding to his boss’s own use of the machine. “What am I going to tell the president when I tell him his Teleprompter is broken?” Biden joked. “What will he do then?”
  • Sotomayor, Action Star?

    The White House says Sonia Sotomayor helped save Major League Baseball. Cool. But your Gaggler must admit she is a little more impressed with one particular anecdote from today’s New York Times profile of Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. Writing about her years as a private attorney in New York City, the Times says that Sotomayor used to go after counterfeiters who sold fake Fendi bags. And when we say “go after,” that’s no joke. Here’s the Times: If the firm had a tip from the United States Customs Office about a suspicious shipment, Ms. Sotomayor would often be involved in the risky maneuver of going to the warehouse to have the merchandise seized. One incident that figures largely in firm lore was a seizure in Chinatown, where the counterfeiters ran away, and Ms. Sotomayor got on a motorcycle and gave chase. Gave chase? On a motorcycle in New York City? Over fake Fendi bags? If true--and we did notice the word "lore" there--all your Gaggler can say is, wow.
  • You Say Potato... I Say Are We Really Having This Debate?

    Your Gaggler won’t lie: After hearing many different pronunciations from various people—including those in the administration--she had to turn to YouTube yesterday to figure out the proper way to say Sonia Sotomayer’s last name. As Slate notes—with a helpful recording, too—the judge puts emphasis on the final syllable: “so-toe-my-YORE.” This, in turn, has irritated Mark Krikorian over at National Review, who declares the pronunciation is simply “unnatural in English...and insisting on unnatural pronounciation is something we shouldn't be giving into." Seriously? 
  • Touring the West, Obama Hits the Money Circuit

    President Obama is in Las Vegas today, where he’ll tout the benefits of the stimulus package Congress passed earlier this year by touring a solar energy farm at Nellis Air Force Base. But that’s not the main reason he’s out on the road this week. Last night, Obama was the star attraction at a $2 million fundraiser for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who looks to face a tough re-election campaign next year. After speaking on the stimulus, Obama flies to Los Angeles, where he’s headlining a reported $3 million fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee at the Beverly Hilton. (Home of the Golden Globes!) ...
  • Bush 41 Nominated Sotomayor? Well, Technically

    When President Obama introduced Sonia Sotomayor this morning at the White House, he was quick to note that she began her career on the federal bench in 1992 after being nominated by George H.W. Bush, a Republican, for the U.S. District Court, and that she was subsequently prompted to the Federal Court of Appeals by Bill Clinton, a Democrat. “It’s a measure of her qualities and her qualifications,” Obama said. Yet it’s a little misleading. As John McCormack over at the Weekly Standard writes, Sotomayor was nominated by Bush as part of a compromise with Senate Democrats at the time to break a deadlock on judicial nominees. Under the agreement, then-Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat and senior member of the Judiciary Committee, was allowed to recommend judges for two of seven vacancies. One of his picks: Sotomayer.One interesting bit of trivia: A fair number of Republicans voted in favor of her nomination at the time. According to the 1992 Senate roll call of the vote, she...
  • How the White House Will Sell Sotomayor

    And now the games begin. With Congress out of town on recess and much of Washington slow to get back to work after the Memorial Day holiday, the White House is taking advantage of having the megaphone largely to itself today on Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court. Their message, which you’ll hear again and again: Not unlike Obama, Sotomayor is the epiphany of the American dream who not only understands the law but also the challenges that people face in their everyday lives. Marc Ambinder has the talking points that went out to Obama’s surrogates this morning, and the White House just forwarded a lengthy backgrounder to reporters echoing many of the same points. Conservative groups are already describing Sotomayor as a “liberal judicial activist.” The White House has its own lexicon that it’s hoping to get out there by the repeat, repeat, repeat method. Among the words we’ve noticed they are using again and again in talking about Sotomayor: “common...
  • Obama Picks Sotomayor for Supreme Court

    President Obama has settled on his pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter: Sonia Sotomayor, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. A native of New York—as has been much reported, she grew up in the Bronx, in the shadow of Yankee Stadium—Sotomayor is not only a woman but would be the first Hispanic on the court if she wins the confirmation. Of all the candidates rumored to be on Obama’s short list, Sotomayor was the one he knew the least. According to the White House, Obama met her for the first time last Thursday, where he was “very impressed," according to one administration official. The president made his final decision last night....
  • Biden Visits Beirut

    Vice President Joe Biden made a quick stopover in Beirut on Friday en route home from a three-day visit to the Balkans. He arrived just two weeks before a major parliamentary election here in Lebanon where the militant Shiite group Hezbollah, which Washington has long regarded as a terrorist group, is hoping to make major electoral gains. Biden insisted did not come to Lebanon to influence the elections though he made clear their outcome would influence the amount of foreign aid that Washington offers the country. “I do not come here to back any particular party or any particular person,” Biden insisted. “I come here to back certain principals.” ...
  • Kosovo Hearts Joe Biden

    Barack Obama may be the guy who attracts the huge crowds, but Joe Biden is no slouch either, at least in Kosovo. Upon arrival in the capital of Pristina this morning, Biden was greeted by thousands of people waving American flags and holding signs professing their love for the Veep. But that was nothing. Every billboard in town featured his face and a "thank you" message. Biden's photo was also plastered all over fences and various buildings throughout the city.
  • Biden on Gitmo: "It's Like Opening Pandora's Box"

    Speaking to reporters on the final day of his tour of the Balkans, Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged the administration still hasn’t figured out what to do with all the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay but predicted that it will still meet its deadline of closing the prison within a year. “I think so,” Biden said, when asked about the January 2010 deadline. “But, look, what the president said is that this is going to be hard. It’s like opening Pandora’s Box. We don’t know what’s inside the box.” ...
  • In Belgrade, Biden Tours a City Under Lockdown

    When Joe Biden arrived in Belgrade on Wednesday, he landed in a ghost town—or so it seemed. The Veep, on day two of his tour of the Balkans, was reportedly the subject of the Serbia’s most intense security ever. The country closed the regional airspace, shut down all the roads and major highways leading into Belgrade’s city center and ordered people living and working along Biden’s motorcade route to stay out of sight. Authorities even reportedly advised people against looking out the window—although more than a few people were spotted breaking the rules. It was all an attempt to keep anti-American protests at bay.The result: A little eerie—though not as creepy as that scene of a deserted Times Square in Vanilla Sky, which your Gaggler kept thinking of during the ride. Occasionally, pockets of people could be spied watching the motorcade from afar—though not close enough to do anything that might cause a security snafu. (In the photo above, that's police in the distance.) Your...
  • Biden to Bosnia: Shape Up or Else

    In a speech so pointed that he paused to apologize several times out of concern he was being rude, Vice President Joe Biden warned Bosnia on Tuesday that it needs to rise above the chronic ethnic tensions that have long threatened its stability or face being a failed state. “To be very blunt with you, I personally, and the leadership of my country is worried about the direction of your country and your future and your children’s future,” Biden told members of the Bosnian Parliament in Sarajevo on Tuesday. His speech came nearly 14 years after U.S. diplomacy helped to end the war in Bosnia, which killed at least 100,000 people. Yet the country’s progress has remained stagnant and largely divided under the same ethnic lines that caused the initial war in the first place. In particular, Biden called out a “sharp and dangerous rise in nationalist rhetoric.” “God, when will you tire of that rhetoric, stirring up anger and resentment,” Biden said. “With all due respect, and forgive me for...
  • Prime Minister? What Prime Minister?

    The New York Times fronts an interesting story today: Zalmay Khalilzad, who was George W. Bush’s envoy to Afghanistan, is apparently in talks to join Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government. According to the Times, Khalilzad, an American citizen who was born in Afghanistan, had originally considered challenging Karzai in the country’s upcoming presidential elections, but missed the registration deadline and is now in negotiations to become something akin to an unelected prime minister or chief executive officer of the country. Although U.S. officials insist they are not behind the move—they say British Prime Minister Gordon Brown brought it up first, according to the Times--both Karzai and Khalilzad have discussed their negotiations in recent weeks with top American officials, including President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Richard Holbrooke, who is Obama’s envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. What’s interesting about this story is that rumors have been...
  • Biden Arrives in the Balkans

    While President Obama navigates the tricky diplomacy of the Middle East peace process in Washington, Joe Biden is off on a mission of his own this week. With your Gaggler in tow, the Veep arrived early Tuesday morning in Sarajevo, the capitol of Bosnia-Herzegovina, kicking off a four-day visit to the Balkans. He’ll deliver what U.S. officials describe as some much needed diplomacy in an area of the world that still remains largely unsteady after a series of wars divided the region more than a decade ago.Here in Sarajevo, Biden will meet later today with top Bosnian officials and speak to the Parliament. Tomorrow, Biden takes his tour to Belgrade, Serbia—a city that still has visible scars and resentment stemming from U.S. bombing runs during a 1999 effort to force what was then Yugoslavia to pull out of Kosovo. On Thursday, Biden heads to Kosovo, where he’ll speak to the Assembly of Kosovo and visit U.S. troops still deployed on peacekeeping missions in the region. The big picture ...
  • Who's Coming Up With Obama's Jokes?

    Barack Obama has had a busy week, with all that diplomatic wrangling and stuff. But behind the scenes, his staff has been getting ready for Obama’s big debut on the Washington dinner scene. On Saturday, Obama will speak at the White House Correspondents Association’s annual dinner. It’s an event that most presidents have used to poke fun at the reporters who cover them—and, as Bill Clinton famously did, at themselves. Some people think it’s a silly event—your Gaggler won’t lie and say she’s not looking forward to it—but one thing is for sure: No president can afford to show up unprepared. It’s a moment where people judge whether the Commander in Chief has the ability to be funny or not.With all that pressure, presidents have been known to recruit outside help in prepping their speech. Clinton had a joke writer and was rumored to have solicited help on occasion from some of his comedian friends in Hollywood. George W. Bush, and his wife, Laura, had assistance from a GOP speechwriter...
  • Has Specter Alienated Everybody?

    Does Arlen Specter have any friends left on the Hill? The Pennsylvania senator’s surprise decision to switch parties last week made him persona non grata with many Republicans. Yet Democrats aren’t exactly feeling the love for him either, after Specter has repeatedly gone out of his way to show how independent he’ll be. Specter has pushed back against reports that he’d promised President Obama that he’d be a “loyal Democrat” (“Never said that,” he insisted); then he trashed Obama’s budget proposals; and then he threw his support behind Republican Norm Coleman in the still undecided Minnesota Senate race. To put it nicely, Democrats were none too pleased, and last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid led the charge on a resolution that stripped Specter of his 29-years of seniority in the Senate. That means he now ranks behind Roland Burris and Kirsten Gillibrand, who were appointed the Senate earlier this year. Specter, not surprisingly, is very unhappy about this development,...
  • In Afghan-Pakistan Summit, Obama Faces His Trickiest Diplomacy Yet

    For all the attention his recent jaunts to Europe and Latin America have gotten, President Obama faces perhaps his most crucial moment of diplomacy yet when he hosts the presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan today at the White House. There are a few goals today, the big one being that Obama hopes to press leaders of the countries to drop their long-held suspicions of one another and work together against a common mission of defeating insurgent Taliban who threaten to undermine their governments and compromise America's fight against terrorism. Ahead of the meetings, Obama aides were speaking in the starkest terms yet about the region, particularly Pakistan, where one senior administration official called on that country’s government to recognize the “existential nature of the threat” Pakistan faces in the Taliban. That’s scary language and there’s a reason for that: Pakistan has made clear it doesn’t want American troops on the ground to fight the Taliban and other insurgents...
  • No Charges Against Bush Lawyers Over Torture Memos?

    A source tells the Associated Press tonight that the Justice Department won’t recommend criminal charges against former Bush administration attorneys who drafted secret memos giving the legal go-ahead for harsh interrogations of terror suspects. An initial draft ethics report, which is still subject to revisions and approval from Attorney General Eric Holder, recommends two of the attorneys—Jay Bybee and John Yoo—be referred to state bar associations for possible disciplinary actions. The report made no recommendations about Steven Bradbury, a third Bush administration attorney involved in drafting the memos, the AP reports. Neither Bybee, who is now a federal Appeals Court judge in California, or Yoo, now a law professor in California, would comment. This comes upon word from the Washington Post that attorneys for the men has pressed other former Bush administration officials to lobby the Justice Department in recent days to “soften” the report. The Bush attorneys aren't out...
  • SCOTUS Watch: Not This Week, Gibbs Says

    Hold your horses, Orrin Hatch. Asked today about the timing on when President Obama might name his nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice David Souter, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs ruled out an announcement this week. “It’s not going to happen,” Gibbs said. Asked about next week, Gibbs dodged. “I can certainly rule out this week,” he said.
  • Did the WH Press Corps Snub Bush?

    Your Gaggler loves nothing more than a silly scandal, but sometimes it’s just annoying. Case in point: OMG, the press corps stood up for President Obama last week when he made a surprise visit to the White House Press Briefing room when, holy moly, they didn’t do the same for George W. Bush. Oh, the bias! Well, not exactly. Your Gaggler wasn’t on hand last week when Obama surprised everybody during the briefing with Robert Gibbs, but can speak from experience having covered Bush’s second term. This reporter was around for more than a few press conferences, including a handful in the Rose Garden and a couple in the press briefing room. Long story short: reporters always stood upon Bush’s arrival in the Rose Garden, the East Room and, yes, even at pressers on foreign trips. In the briefing room, it was a little more complicated. Your Gaggler stood up in there just once, when she was new on the beat, only to have a photographer whisper furiously that she was blocking his shot of Bush....
  • Biden Presses Israel on the "Road Map"

    Later this afternoon, President Obama is scheduled to meet at the White House with Israeli President Shimon Peres. What will Obama say? It’s good guess that he’ll basically repeat what Vice President Joe Biden said this morning in an address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Speaking to AIPAC’s annual conference here in Washington, Biden urged Israel to back a two-state peace solution with the Palestinians. “You’re not going to like my saying this,” Biden prefaced his remarks. “(Israel should) not build more settlements, dismantle existing outposts and allow Palestinians freedom of movement.” But the speech wasn’t all tough love. Biden called on the Palestinians to “combat terror and incitement” aimed at Israel. He also urged the Palestinian Authority and other neighboring Arab states to make “meaningful gestures” toward Israel. Hinting at the tensions over the U.S.’s overtures to Iran, Biden reaffirmed the nation’s commitment to Israel’s security. “That is not...
  • Asked if She Still Loves Her Husband, Elizabeth Edwards Says Its "Complicated"

    Following on the leaks to the New York Daily News, Brand X has a full excerpt of the new book by Elizabeth Edwards, where she writes about her reaction to her husband, John, and his affair with Rielle Hunter. Edwards doesn’t name Hunter, describing her only as a “female videographer,” and says that although the former senator admitted the affair long before it became public knowledge, he wasn’t as truthful as he could have been. She writes:...
  • SCOTUS Watch: A Nominee This Week?

    Could President Obama pick his nominee for the Supreme Court this week? That’s what Orrin Hatch thinks. The Utah senator and one of the longest serving Republicans on the Judiciary Committee talked to Obama yesterday by phone about the coming nomination. The president didn't go into the question of timing, but Hatch was quick to get an idea. “I’d be surprised if it went beyond this week,” Hatch tells Politico.  “I would think by the end of this week or over the weekend, he’ll nominate somebody. I’m sure they’ve discussed this internally, back and forth for months now.” The White House won't comment on specifics, though Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said yesterday they are on a "tight timeline" to makes sure Congress takes up the nomination before its summer recess in August. Chances are, Obama will meet or talk to the potential nominee before he or she is announced. You know what that means: It’s time to start watching who sneaks into the West Wing or into Obama...
  • Vegas Smacks Biden on Flu Gaffe

    Memo to Joe Biden: Don’t mess with the tourism industry. Inside today’s print version of USA Today, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau—the folks behind the slogan “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”—have a full page ad featuring a not-so-flattering photo of Biden frowning. “Mr. Vice President,” the ad says. “If you’d said it here, no one would have known.” Good one. They are, of course, talking about Biden’s statement last week in which he said he’d warn his family to stay off planes and public transportation in the wake of the swine flu scare. The White House quickly clarified his remarks, but apparently not soon enough for tourism folks, who were already struggling because of the bad economy.
  • The Feds Look Into John Edwards' Campaign Cash

    John Edwards: That’s someone we haven’t seen or heard from in a while, but chances are, we’re going to be talking about him a lot this week. On Sunday, the onetime Democratic presidential hopeful and former senator confirmed reports that federal investigators are looking into his use of campaign funds in relation to payments made to Rielle Hunter, the former campaign videographer who had an affair with Edwards. His political action committee paid a firm affiliated with Hunter more than $100,000 for video services, but as the Charlotte Observer reported yesterday, the inquiry could go deeper into “a cluster” of different non-profit groups affiliated with Edwards that haven’t been subject to the same rules of transparency, including one committee that raised almost $3.5 million from a single donor. For his part, Edwards denies wrongdoing and says he’s cooperating. “I am confident that no funds from my campaign were used improperly,” Edwards said in a statement yesterday....
  • What is Obama Reading?

    Say what you will about George W. Bush: The guy liked to read, regularly devouring massive biographies of Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Lyndon Johnson and other public figures who, coincidentally, all had in common the fact that they had to make tough decisions while in office. As president, Bush even picked up a novel on occasion, including The Stranger by Albert Camus—prompting many reporters, including this one, to wonder, “Hmm.”...
  • Postcard from Somalia: The Obama Restaurant & Cafe

    Yes we can… run into Obamamania everywhere. Jeff Bartholet, Newsweek’s D.C. bureau chief (and your Gaggler’s boss—please forward all complaints to him, thank you very much) is traveling in Africa this week and stumbled upon the Obama Restaurant & Café—yes, named after that Obama—in Hargeisa, Somaliland. (This is an independent republic due west of Puntland, Somalia, an autonomous region where most of the pirates operate.) Here’s Jeff:The owner, 35-year-old Mohammed Hassan, grew up in California and Oregon, but his family comes from what is now called the Republic of Somaliland. Hassan moved back to the city of Hargeisa three years ago. He says he wanted to "get away from Bush and Bushonomics for a while.Hmm. Wonder if he serves beets. One more photo after the jump.
  • Obama: He's Just Like US!

    Well, technically no: Your Gaggler officially blows at basketball. But, Mr. President, we’ll take you at skee ball anyday. Here’s video of Obama shooting hoops earlier this week at the White House with the UConn Lady Huskies, who won the NCAA national championship a few weeks ago. And, yes, viewers, you are seeing it correctly: Obama sinks every basket.
  • Can Obama Win Over the GOP or Will Politics Get In the Way?

    John Dickerson has an interesting piece over at Slate talking about the odd position President Obama finds himself in when he praises a Republican only to have other Democrats go after him (or her). The example he uses is Charlie Crist, the Republican governor of Florida, whom Obama praised earlier this year for standing up to his party and supporting the stimulus package. Crist, who is considering a U.S. Senate run, is now being attacked by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee as a spineless politician who runs when problems get tough.  So who is he: A guy who rises above politics to do the right thing or an opportunistic politician?...
  • Breaking News: Souter to Retire From the Supreme Court

    Barack Obama said yesterday that one of the things that had surprised him most about the presidency was how it seemed that every major issue or problem possible had come to a head in the early days of his time at the White House. Well, now he can add one more thing to his plate: NPR’s Nina Totenberg is reporting that Justice David Souter will leave the Supreme Court at the end of the current term in June. The news isn’t that surprising: Souter has made clear for a while that he wanted to leave Washington. But as NPR reports, Souter first waited to see what his other colleagues had decided about their future. Justice John Paul Stevens, at 89, has been the subject of speculation, although it appears he’s not going anywhere. Ditto for Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who recently had cancer surgery. “Souter apparently had waited to learn his colleague’s plans before deciding his own,” NPR reports. But people began to get suspicious. As NBC's Pete Williams reports, justices began hiring clerks...
  • Scare Force One: The Joy of Photoshop Edition

    On the heels of that Scare Force One flyby earlier this week, the New York Daily News is holding a contest inviting folks to submit their best photoshopped images featuring Air Force One. Some are seriously hysterical. Your Gaggler recommends paging through all of them, though her personal favorites are here, here, here and here. (RIP Bob Ross.)