Holly Bailey

Stories by Holly Bailey

  • Holy Moly Is Right: Palin on American Chopper

    Sarah Palin is a guest on TLC’s American Chopper tonight. The guys meet up with Palin to talk about a motorcycle they are building to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Alaska’s statehood. The preview, up on YouTube, shows Palin cozying up against a HUGE bear rug that’s about, oh, three times her size. We’d seen it in pictures before, but for some reason, it just looks bigger this time. Wow.
  • Can Bush Ever Redeem Himself?

    A few weeks ago, your Gaggler blogged a story from the Dallas Morning News about what George W. Bush has been up to since leaving the White House. Now Vanity Fair is out with a more expansive look at what 43 has been up to and how he and his former aides are trying to shape his legacy. The reporter, Nancy Jo Sales, got access to Bush’s maiden voyage into paid public speaking last month in Canada, and it sounds like the former prez basically delivered a total stand-up comedy routine.  In one anecdote, Bush is quoted talking about a man he met at his local hardware store last month who pulled him aside to tell him that he looked remarkably like George W. Bush. “Yeah, man, happens all the time,” Bush responded. “Oh, that must make you mad,” the man replied. (Funny, your Gaggler thinks she’s heard that line before.) “If Bush is going to succeed at remaking his legacy, a lot will depend on the thing Karl Rove spotted long ago as his greatest political asset: His ability to charm, to come...
  • Biden: At Least He Didn't Say Swine Flu

    Uh oh: Is Joe Biden in trouble? The Veep went on the Today Show this morning to talk about swine flu. NBC’s Matt Lauer asked Biden about the advice he’s giving his family. Here’s the exchange:...
  • Gaggle Cam: The Show Before the Show

    At the White House, there is no moment more strange or funny than final minutes before the president goes before reporters for a news conference. There is a message that goes out over the sound system that gives reporters the two-minute warning before the presser is to begin. In the final seconds, the major TV correspondents rise to do a final stand-up previewing what the president will say. Your Gaggler has been covering the White House for four years and has never not been amused by how odd it is: Five, sometimes six, correspondents all loudly talking into cameras at the same time. On TV, you can often hear another reporter talking in the background of a correspondent’s live shot. But you’d never imagine how loud it actually is in the room and how much concentration it takes not to get distracted by your competitors, who literally are standing inches away. Your Gaggler shot this with her small camera—which means the quality isn’t super great—but you’ll get the jist of what the...
  • A Few Thoughts on the Obama Presser

    President Obama didn’t make a lot of news at his press conference Wednesday night, but that was probably by his own design. Speaking at his third primetime presser, held not coincidentally on his 100th day in office, Obama exhibited the style we’ve come to know about him in his short time as president: He likes to play it safe. Asked about Pakistan ahead of a major summit he’ll host next week with that country’s president and the leader of Afghanistan, Obama confessed that he is “gravely concerned” about the stability of the country. But pressed on what is widely considered the most worrisome scenario of Pakistan’s fragile state—the Taliban seizing control of the country’s nuclear weapons—and what the U.S. would do about it, Obama refused to go there, saying that he thinks the arsenal is still safe and that he won’t address a “hypothetical.” Obama declared definitively that he believes waterboarding and the tactics discussed in the Bush era legal memos his administration recently...
  • Yeah, We Could Use a Massage Too

    The thing about town halls is that anything can happen. Here’s an excerpt from President Obama’s stop in St. Louis earlier today, where he took questions from the audience: Q: I'm a licensed acupuncturist and licensed massage therapist in Florissant.  And so -- THE PRESIDENT:  I could use one right now.  (Laughter.)  My back is stiff.  I've been working hard. Q    I'll be happy to help you.  (Laughter.) Meow.
  • Obama: So Far So Good

    What's President Obama going to talk about at his press conference tonight? The White House just released excerpts of his opening statement:...
  • Dear Rahm: You Were Talking About What?

    Remember that whole question of whether the White House flip flopped on prosecuting former Bush administration officials for those controversial CIA interrogation techniques? Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, initially said his boss didn’t want to prosecute former Bushies, only to be contradicted by Obama himself, who said it was up to Attorney General Eric Holder to weigh the legal merits. Well, ABC’s Charlie Gibson brought up the apparent contradiction in an interview with Emanuel today. His response: Emanuel says he was talking about "policy guidance." Huh? Here’s the excerpt: ...
  • Biden: How Can You Not Love This Guy?

    Vice President Joe Biden was on the road in Texas yesterday, where he was the featured attraction at fund-raiser in Austin (which, for the record, happens to be one of your Gaggler’s favorite cities in the world). These events are mostly pep talks for the party faithful, but Biden, as usual, did a little bit of stand-up comedy. Verdict: Pretty funny. Here’s an excerpt from the pool report: “Texas is the only place I know that turns a river into a lake,” Biden gibed to laughter, a reference to Lake Austin being in a chain of lakes broken up by dams along the Colorado River. Biden went on: “You Texas guys are ugly as hell, but your women are beautiful. In southern Delaware, they would say y’all married up.” And, taking note of guests not touching their bbq-rubbed tuna on jalapeno-ginger rice cakes: “Please eat your meat, please. I’m a former United States senator. I’m used to not being taken seriously.”
  • Lingo Watch: From Swine Flu to H1N1 Virus

    Did you catch President Obama’s comments this morning about swine flu? Well, he didn’t actually use that specific term. Obama referred repeatedly to the “H1N1 virus,” which is the scientific term for the sickness. What changed? Well, the Obama administration has been hearing big time complaints from the pork lobby and others that the term “swine flu” is misleading—after all, you technically can’t catch the virus from eating pork—and they contend its damaging to the industry. Earlier this week, several countries, including China and Thailand, announced a ban on pork products from the US. That has prompted some damage control among Obama officials, including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This really isn’t swine flu. It’s the H1N1 virus,” Vilsack told reporters Tuesday. “We want to say to consumers here and broad that there is no risk to you, there is no scientific evidence whatsoever that there is any link between consuming pork, prepared pork products and the H1N1 virus.” But ...
  • Specter Called Biden First

    When Arlen Specter decided to switch parties, the first person he called at the White House wasn’t President Obama but his longtime friend Joe Biden, who has been pushing Specter for years to join the Democrats. A senior administration official tells Newsweek that Specter phoned the vice president around 8:45 Tuesday morning, but Biden, who is traveling in Texas today, wasn’t able to take the call. Specter tried calling Obama at 10:15am, but the president was in his economic briefing, though they subsequently talked a few minutes later. Shortly before 11am, Specter and Biden finally connected. According to the senior official, Biden didn’t know before Tuesday that Specter would join the Democrats, though they had been talking about it. But the official, like other Obama aides, insisted that Specter made the decision on his own and that nothing was promised to him, at least on their end. It’s no secret that Biden and Specter are extremely close. For years, the two rode the train home...
  • McConnell: This is About Pennsylvania Not the GOP

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell just talked to reporters on the Hill. He said Specter broke the news to him yesterday afternoon. According to McConnell, Specter said that he’d determined that he couldn’t win the GOP primary in Pennsylvania or be elected as an independent so he was switching to the Dems. McConnell was quick to paint this development as a “Pennsylvania story” and not reflective of the party nationally. Here are the notable excerpts:...
  • More GOP React: Steele Calls Specter "Left Wing"

    Ah, how the love affair ends. Here’s one more statement from a prominent GOPer, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, who brings up Specter’s “left wing voting record.” He's already left wing? Wow. Here's Steele:Some in the Republican Party are happy about this. I am not. Let’s be honest-Senator Specter didn’t leave the GOP based on principles of any kind. He left to further his personal political interests because he knew that he was going to lose a Republican primary due to his left-wing voting record. Republicans look forward to beating Sen. Specter in 2010, assuming the Democrats don’t do it first....
  • The GOP Line on Specter: He's a Sell Out

    At the moment, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is huddling with other top Republicans on the Hill trying to figure out how exactly to respond to word that Arlen Specter is switching parties. It goes without saying that it’s a devastating blow to a party struggling to stay politically afloat. Several Senate Republican aides contacted by Newsweek declined to talk about what the party knew about Specter’s discussions with Democrats, preferring to leave it up to McConnell, who will go before reporters later this afternoon. Sen. John Cornyn, who heads up the Senate GOP’s campaign committee, just issued a statement that sums up what most Republicans are saying: That Specter sold out his principals for politics in what Cornyn’s aides describe as “seemingly insurmountable bid for re-election.” “Sen. Specter’s decision today represents the height of political self-preservation,” Cornyn said. Other Republicans aren’t quite that nice. “Disgusting,” one Senate GOP aide told Newsweek. ...
  • Specter: How Obama Found Out

    Obviously one of the biggest questions is what role the White House played in convincing Arlen Specter to join the Democrats. It’s highly unlikely that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Dem leaders didn’t tell the White House about their conversations with Specter, who Obama officials have viewed as reliable ally in the Senate. So far, the White House isn’t saying. All we know is how President Obama found out. According to two administration officials, who spoke to Newsweek on background, Obama was in the middle of daily economic briefing when an aide handed him a note around 10:25 this morning. “Specter is announcing he is changing parties,” it read. A few minutes later, Obama called Specter. “You have my full support,” Obama told him, according to aides. “Thrilled to have you.”
  • Lingo Watch: Here's the Words Obama Has Used the Most

    Your Gaggler has been admittedly a little obsessed lately with the words and phrasing chosen by the White House. To sum up so far, “war on terror” is definitely passé for Obama and his aides. Ditto for “torture.”  Strangely, one phrase we thought would catch on—“Disrupt, Dismantle and Defeat” in regards to the Taliban—has barely been mentioned at all by the president since the big unveil on Afghanistan policy. Now Chris Van Buren over at The Atlantic has a look at exactly what words Obama has used most during his first three months in office. Some aren’t surprising: He’s said the word “president” most (661 times) followed by “work” (657) followed by “jobs” (452). Another biggie includes “responsibility.” “Change” was the mantra of Obama’s campaign but he’s said the word just 122 times. But that’s more than he’s used the word “war,” which Obama has said just 114 times.
  • Parents Think the Obamas Are, Gasp, Stingy?

    President Obama just can’t catch a break when it comes to gifts. Courtney Hazlett over at MSNBC reports that parents at Sidwell Friends School, where the Obama girls attend classes, are all aghast that Obama didn’t donate something cool to the school’s annual fundraising auction. The Obamas’ contributions: a copy of Rolling Stone with Obama on the cover signed by the president and a copy of Vogue with Michelle Obama on the cover signed by the first lady. That doesn’t seem too bad of a deal to your Gaggler, given the total hysteria set off by anything Obama-related. But the school apparently had fond memories of the Clintons, who were pretty generous when their daughter, Chelsea, was a student there. One example: Back in 1996, a round of golf with Bill Clinton went for nearly six figures. Hmm. Wonder how much someone would pay to play basketball with Obama? Maybe we’ll find out next year.
  • Air Force One Photo-Op Scares the Crap Out of Manhattan

    Good one, FAA. Thousands of workers in Lower Manhattan today went into total panic when a Boeing 747 presidential aircraft— officially known by the call sign Air Force One, when President Obama is actually on board—flew low over New York harbor this morning. The massive blue and white plane, escorted by a pair of fighter jets, was apparently circling Lower Manhattan so that Air Force photogs could get pictures of Air Force One with the Statue of Liberty. The Staten Island Advance has posted several photos here, while the Wall Street Journal has some eerie video posted here, showing how the plane took almost the same flight path as those hijacked jetliners that crashed into the World Trade Center on 9/11. Yikes. Although the Federal Aviation Administration says it made local and state authorities aware of the photo-op, no one bothered to tell the public. In fact, the NYPD claims the FAA specifically asked for the mission to be kept secret—so secret that even New York City Mayor...
  • Senator Burris: Running Again?

    If embattled Illinois Sen. Roland Burris hopes to hold onto his seat in the 2010 election, he's off to a rocky start. According to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission, Burris raised just $845 from January to March for a potential campaign. That's a staggeringly low amount by Washington standards, where the average expenditures in a U.S. Senate race in 2008 was more than $8 million. By comparison, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who filled Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's vacated seat, raised $2.3 million over the same period toward her 2010 race.What's going on with Burris? "Fundraising was just not on his radar," Delmarie Cobb, Burris's political adviser, tells NEWSWEEK. Indeed, Burris remains under a legal cloud because of his ties to ousted Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who faces federal corruption charges, including allegations that he tried to sell the Senate seat once held by President Obama. Burris, who was appointed to the seat by Blagojevich late...
  • WH Reporters to Snoopy Bloggers: Drop Dead!

    Drama has been afoot at the White House lately, at least in the media area. A week or so ago, someone posted these handwritten signs throughout the workspace just off the briefing room. The back story: Several members of the press corps have been up in arms over seeing details of private conversations and other generally off-the-record moments between reporters posted on blogs. (Yes, just like this one! We see the irony!)
  • A Strategy on Paparazzi?

    Your Gaggler has been meaning to post this story all week, but things kept coming up. Last Sunday, Peter Wallsten and Faye Fiore over the Los Angeles Times had an interesting story looking at how the White House handles press coverage for President Obama and his family. One thing we had been wondering before Inauguration Day is how the White House would deal with the celebrity-style coverage of the new president. TMZ is now in D.C., regularly posting videos and photos of politicians, and during the campaign, Obama had been a frequent target of the paparazzi, most notably for its shots of him on vacation in Hawaii. But since he’s been at the White House, almost all that coverage has stopped and not just because the security around him and his family is tighter. The White House, as the LAT notes, has a friendly relationship with so-called celebrity shows and publications and has given them access in exchange for not running unauthorized pics. Here’s an excerpt:The White House, eager...
  • Kerry Trashes Obama's Pakistan Strategy (Well, Sort Of)

    Your Gaggler is surprised this isn’t getting more attention: In an interview with USA Today, Sen. John Kerry trashed the Obama administration’s plan for dealing with Pakistan, calling it “not a real strategy.” Kerry, who just returned from Pakistan, says the country is “in a moment of peril” and “there is not in place yet an adequate policy or plan to deal with it.” And this comes from one of Obama’s most vocal supporters during the campaign and someone who was rumored to be on the short list for Secretary of State. Ouch. As the paper notes, Kerry, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was way more positive about Obama’s Afghan/Pakistan plan when it was unveiled last month. Back then, Kerry called it “realistic and bold.” What changed? For one, Kerry doesn’t think the counterinsurgency strategy is entirely working.  It looks like he also got an earful from someone during his trip about Obama’s decision to deal with both Afghanistan and Pakistan together, as opposed to...
  • Photo Diary: Obama and Marine One

    By the way, President Obama is in Iowa today, where he’s marking Earth Day by speaking at a former Maytag plant that’s been converted into factory where they make parts for wind turbines. This morning, your Gaggler took a quick field trip over to the White House with a Newsweek intern (Hey Dina!) where we watched Obama and his aides take off on Marine One. It was us, a bunch of other reporters and several dozen elementary school students who went absolutely nuts when they saw Obama exit the Oval Office and head toward his helicopter. When we say absolutely nuts, we mean all out pandemonium: yelling, crying, shouts of “I Love You.” Your Gaggler hasn’t heard screaming like that since, well, last year when she was run over by a soccer mom chasing the Jonas Brothers at the White House Correspondents Dinner. No kidding. Even Obama, who has probably seen it all, laughed. More photos after the jump. Reporters watching for Obama to exit the Oval Office. The spectators Obama walks to his...
  • Spin Watch: Gibbs Says Obama Didn't Make News on Prosecutions

    The White House is trying very hard to convince reporters that President Obama didn’t make news yesterday when he left the door open for possible prosecution of former Bush administration officials who played a role in approving those controversial CIA interrogations. On board Air Force One this morning, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs flat out insisted that what Obama said wasn’t new or surprising and that it had been his policy all along. (Why didn't Rahm know that?) Oddly, Gibbs analogized Obama’s role in the process to what would happen if a reporter were caught defacing AF1. It wouldn’t be the president who would decide the punishment, Gibbs said. It would be someone else. Er, okay. But didn’t Obama make the call to not prosecute the CIA agents who acted on the advice of Bush-era Justice Department officials? Here are the notable excerpts:...
  • On Interrogations, It's Not Just the Bushies Who Look Bad

    Here’s one reason that not everybody in Congress is thrilled about the idea of an investigation into the harsh interrogation methods approved by the Bush administration: It won’t be just the Bushies that look bad. The New York Times fronts word today that of all the people briefed on the methods—top CIA officials, White House aides and senior members of the House and Senate Intelligence committees—nobody questioned the origins of the tactics they were debating. The key mention there: Congress. While the CIA did not brief the full membership of the Congressional Intel committees, they did brief the four top members at the time: Nancy Pelosi, Porter Goss, Bob Graham and Richard Shelby. Here’s an excerpt:As was common with the most secret programs, the C.I.A. chose not to brief the entire committees about the interrogation methods but only the so-called Gang of Four — the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate and House committees. The rest of the committee members would be fully...
  • 100 Days Watch: Obama Loses His First Senior Staffer

    Out so quickly? Gaggle pal Liz Sidoti over at the Associated Press has the scoop that White House Communications Director Ellen Moran is resigning. Moran, the former head of Emily’s List, is leaving to go to work for Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, where she will be his chief of staff. According to Moran, one of the reasons she’s leaving is--you guessed it—to spend more time with her family. Moran’s exit is a big deal, mainly because of timing. President Obama hasn’t been in office 100 days yet, and already, one of his senior aides is exiting the West Wing. Yet in some ways, the move isn’t a surprise. Moran is one of the few outsiders in the West Wing. She didn’t work for the campaign and, in fact, had endorsed Hillary Clinton in the primary. She wasn’t considered a part of Obama’s inner circle. Although the White House hasn’t announced a replacement, it’s assumed that Dan Pfeiffer, Moran’s deputy who was communications director for the Obama’s campaign, will likely move up.
  • From Secretary of State to... Sports Reporter?

    Now this would be an interesting post-administration move. Sources at HBO tell the sports blog Deadspin that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wants to join the reporting team for “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” Calls to her spokesman went unreturned, but Rice is such a fanatic sports fan, it makes sense to us. The former Bush aide once confessed that her dream job would be commissioner of the National Football League. In fact, she spoke at a gathering of NFL owners last month. “I am prepared to answer any questions on Russia, the Middle East, advice for the draft, the zone blitz,” Rice said. “And why no one should ever run a prevent defense.” Good one. Will Condi get the job? According to Deadspin, she’s have to get the ok from Gumbel, who isn’t exactly a fan of the GOP. In other words, no reference letters from the former boss, ok?
  • Did Obama Flip Flop on Prosecuting Bush Officials?

    At the briefing today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs downplayed any policy shift on the White House in regards to whether Bush administration officials should face charges for authoring harsh interrogation techniques. (Look! We’re not using torture either!) This morning, President Obama left the door open for charges, saying it was Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision. But as many reporters are pointing out, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said something entirely different on Sunday, insisting that Obama did not want to bring charges against the Bush folks. Here’s the transcript from Emanuel’s appearance on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos:STEPHANOPOULOS: Final quick question. The president has ruled out prosecutions for CIA officials who believed they were following the law. Does he believe that the officials who devised the policies should be immune from prosecution?EMANUEL: What he believes is, look, as you saw in that statement he wrote, and I...
  • The T-Word? Don't Even Think About Saying It

    First it was the "war on terror.” Now it looks like “torture” is being retired from the White House lexicon. Greg Sargent blogs over at The Plum Line that he’s noticed almost no use of the word since the White House made the decision last week to release the interrogation memos. Instead, they’ve been using terms like “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Catchy. Here’s Sargent:At the White House press briefing yesterday, press sec Robert Gibbs avoided the word “torture,” instead using the phrase “enhanced interrogations” twice in answering a questioner who had used the T-word. At a religious conference yesterday, according to reporter Beth Marlowe, top adviser David Axelrod refrained from the T-word and instead referred four times either to “these practices,” “techniques,” or “enhanced interrogation tactics.” In an ABC News interview on Sunday, Rahm Emanuel referred to “these techniques and practices.” In his statement last Thursday announcing the release of the torture memos,...
  • Obama Doesn't Rule Out Prosecution of Bush Officials Who Approved Interrogations

    This is big news: Although he has repeatedly emphasized that his administration believes in “looking forward and not backwards,” President Obama told reporters at the White House this morning that he would be open to prosecution of Bush administration officials who approved harsh interrogation tactics. Obama emphasized that he doesn’t believe in charging CIA agents and other officials who carried out the so-called torture methods but asked directly about those who gave the legal go-ahead for those tactics, Obama said that decision was up to Attorney General Eric Holder and he wouldn’t “pre-judge.” In other words, that’s not a firm no. “With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that that is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general within the perimeters of various laws,” Obama said. “I don't want to prejudge that. I think that there are a host of very complicated issues involved there.” Asked about a possible congressional probe, Obama...