Holly Bailey

Stories by Holly Bailey

  • 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...
  • Dick Cheney? Is That You Again?

    Does anyone think it’s sort of funny that we’re seeing Dick Cheney more often these days than we did when he was actually still vice president? The former Veep was back on TV again last night, this time trashing President Obama’s decision to release those CIA interrogation memos. In an interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity, Cheney called for documents that showed the “success” of the interrogations to be declassified and released so that there could be an “honest debate” over whether the controversial methods worked. "One of the things that I find a little bit disturbing about this recent disclosure is they put out the legal memos, the memos that the CIA got from the Office of Legal Counsel, but they didn't put out the memos that showed the success of the effort," Cheney told Fox. “I know specifically of reports that I read, that I saw, that lay out what we learned through the interrogation process and what the consequences were for the country. I've now formally...
  • More Thoughts on Fund-Raising

    Following up on Katie’s post about fund-raising, one thing that could also be complicating the DNC’s efforts to raise money is the fact that the committee, following Barack Obama’s lead in the last campaign, no longer accepts contributions from lobbyists or political action committees, whereas its GOP counterpart does. Perhaps the most important numbers to look for in coming days will be those released by the congressional fund-raising committees. In Washington, money traditionally follows power, and when the Democrats took control of Congress in 2007, the party committees saw a massive jump in contributions from PACs and lobbyists. Will that remain the same considering all the lobbyist bashing we’ve heard from Democrats lately? This afternoon, the House and Senate Republican fund-raising committees (who file monthly, as opposed to quarterly like the main party committees) reported fairly respectable numbers for a party out of power in an off election year. According to Roll Call,...
  • Obama: Our Role as Lawmakers is Not to Stifle the Market

    Fortune Magazine is out today with an interview with President Obama. According to the magazine, it submitted written questions about the president’s views on business after his big speech last week at Georgetown. That means there’s not much chance for follow-up or spontaneity, but it’s still worth a read. Here’s an excerpt:...
  • Culvahouse on Palin: Impressive, but Not Ready

    Why did John McCain really pick Sarah Palin to be his running mate? We’ve heard from McCain and lots of his former campaign staffers on the subject, but on Friday, the man who was actually in charge of vetting McCain’s potential running mates finally spoke out. In a speech before the Republican National Lawyers Association, Arthur Culvahouse talked publicly for the first time about his work for McCain and what he told the Arizona senator about Palin. (The full video, courtesy C-SPAN is here.) The headline: Culvahouse liked her, but thought she wouldn’t be ready. "I think she would have been a great vice president. So I told John, she wouldn't have been ready on January 20th -- I don't think many people would. Maybe only a Dick Cheney who has been in the White House and has been Secretary of Defense would" be ready to take over the presidency," Culvahouse said Friday. "But she had a lot of capacity. The mistake I made -- and we've laughed about it...
  • 100 Day Watch: When Will Obama Let His Aides Do the Talking?

    Barack Obama is nearing a big milestone: 100 days in office! You’ve almost made it, Mr. President! One thing your Gaggler is looking for as we near the 100 day mark: When will Obama start to let his cabinet members take on some of his PR responsibilities? Over the last three months, the president has gone before cameras at least two (and sometimes three or four) times a day to announce new policy or talk about what his administration is up to. That’s why reporters have been buzzing about Obama’s use of the teleprompter: There have been days recently where Obama has used the device several times a day to deliver mini-speeches. All of this has been a calculated move on the part of the White House. Obama aides have wanted the president front and center to show that he was busy doing something on behalf of the American people. After all, Obama himself is his administration’s greatest PR asset, given his huge approval ratings with the public, and everything he says is guaranteed to get...
  • At the White House, Lots of Barack Czars

    We already knew President Obama loves organizing summits. But with the naming earlier this week of official border czar Alan Bersin, David Rothkopf over at Foreign Policy writes that that Obama officially has more czars than Russia’s faved Romanev Dynasty. Hmm, maybe that’s why Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev hit it off? Here’s Rothkopf:...
  • Clarence Thomas on Dishwashers: "What a Device!"

    Your Gaggler missed this story earlier this week, and she’s sorry she did. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke to a group of high school essay winners here in Washington a few days ago—a pretty big deal, the New York Times notes, because Thomas is the justice who rarely talks, on the bench or off. Standing behind a glowing hot pink lectern, Thomas hinted he was feeling a little burned out. “I tend to be morose sometimes,” he admitted. “That’s the one thing about this job. You get a little tired.” One of his few comforts: an apparent man den in his basement, where he escapes to watch movies. “I have on many occasions or a number of occasions when things were becoming particularly routine gone down to my basement to watch ‘Saving Private Ryan,’” he said. “I can’t tell you why that particular movie, except we have it and it’s about something important in our lives—World War II.” We get it: Being one of the nine people in charge of intepreting the U.S. Constitution is super hard...
  • Obama at Georgetown: WWJD?

    In his economic speech at Georgetown earlier this week, President Obama notably cited a parable mentioned in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. But that was it when it came to religious imagery—literally, it seems. Our friend Mark Silva at the Chicago Tribune picks up a story first reported by CNS News that the White House asked Georgetown to cover up all signage and symbols behind the stage where Obama spoke. It’s not that unusual of a request: The White House usually prefers to have flags and a plain backdrop behind Obama when he speaks. But the stink is apparently over what Georgetown covered up: A large monogram inscribed on the pediment of the stage that included a cross and read “IHS,” a traditional Catholic symbol for the name Jesus Christ. “The White House wanted a simple backdrop of flags and pipe and drape for the speech, consistent with what they've done for other policy speeches," a Georgetown spokeswoman told CNS. "Frankly, the pipe and drape wasn't high...
  • Scandaleux!!

    What’s the French word for two-faced? After appearing all buddy buddy with President Obama earlier this month in Europe, French President Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly went off on the new American president, describing him as weak and inexperienced. His comments came during a luncheon this week with members of the French Parliament, who subsequently went and blabbed all the details to the press. “Obama has a subtle mind, very clever and very charismatic,” Sarkozy said, according to one parliament member quoted by the paper Liberation. “But he was elected two months ago and never ran a ministry in his life. He doesn’t have a position on a number of things.” According to Sarkozy, Obama “is not always operating at a level of decision-making and efficiency” and seemed inadequately briefed on climate change. Some of this tension appears to be over all the credit Obama got after the G20 for brokering a deal between China and France over tax havens, thus saving the talks. But Sarkozy reporte...
  • Obama on the Interrogation Memos

    President Obama just landed in Mexico, the first stop of a four-day trip to Latin America. But not surprisingly, there’s big news back home. After some internal debate, the Obama administration released four memos, with some sections blacked out, detailing the Bush administration’s legal justifications for methods the CIA used to interrogate terror suspects. In making the memos public, the administration blacked out the names of CIA agents who participated in the interrogations and announced that because the agents were acting on legal advice from the Bush-era Justice Department, they will not face federal charges for their conduct. Here's Obama's statement on his decision to release the memos, courtesy the White House: The Department of Justice will today release certain memos issued by the Office of Legal Counsel between 2002 and 2005 as part of an ongoing court case. These memos speak to techniques that were used in the interrogation of terrorism suspects during that...
  • Does Bo Know Fame?

    The New York Times tackles what is clearly one of the most vexing questions in Washington today: Does First Dog Bo know he’s famous? Not surprisingly, the answer depends on who you ask. “Dogs don’t know fame,” insists Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and author of “What Do Dogs Know?” He says Bo Obama’s perception won’t be any different than any other family dog, although with all of the attention Bo might think he has “groupies.” But Cecelia Ruggles, the owner of Stump, this year’s top dog at the Westminster Kennel Club, totally disagrees. “Oh, they know they’re famous, and they definitely get an attitude,” she says. She points to J.R., her bichon frise who won Westminster in 2001, who waves his paws upon entering press conferences. “It’s his signature,” she says. “It’s not something we taught him to do, it’s just something he does.” Your Gaggler tends to side with the fact that Bo knows what’s going on. How else to explain his decision...
  • What's Going On With Obama's Book Royalties?

    Did Barack Obama’s book sales decline last year? On Wednesday, the White House released tax returns for the president and first lady, who jointly reported about $2.8 million in income last year. The bulk of that—about $2.6 million—were royalties from the president’s two books: “The Audacity of Hope” and “Dreams From My Father.” That’s hardly a shabby figure, but Obama’s book income was much higher the year before, when he reported almost $4.1 million in royalties, according to his 2007 Senate financial disclosure. The likely explanation: Although both of his books were best-sellers all last year, most of the sales were of the paperback versions, which earned Obama a lot less money. In May 2007, just after he officially declared his candidacy for president, Obama filed a financial disclosure that included an explanation of just how much money he gets from his books:Royalties for the two non-fiction books are: 15 percent of the US price for hardcover book sales; 7.5 percent  of the U...
  • Kinky Throws His Cowboy Hat in the Ring, Again

    The Texas gubernatorial race just got a lot more interesting. For months, everyone has been focused on what is sure to be a nasty primary fight between incumbent Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison on the Republican side. But now comes word that official jack of all trades Kinky Friedman is contemplating another campaign for governor, this time as a Democrat. Three years ago, your Gaggler trailed Friedman around Texas for a week during his first run for governor in what was surely one of the most entertaining stories she ever reported. (How many politicians do you know who hang out with Willie Nelson all the time?) The problem for Kinky back then: He used so many corny lines and jokes that nobody took him seriously. This time around, Kinky is vowing a different kind of race. “I intend to run a serious campaign,” he writes in a letter posted on his Web site. We’ll see.