Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Texting With Keith

As part of the Obama Loyalty Oath and Obama Army Indoctrination Process, we at the White House monitor communications of a few ... okay, every ... member of the traditional media who has signed on with us. We expect this overseas trip to be a smashing success, in part because of individuals like the one's below. To give you FOTs an insight into how these people help us, here is an excerpt from atexting string between two of those faithful followers. The names have been changed to protect their privacy.

Keith Olbermann: Watching President Obama land. My goodness, he and Michelle look magnificent coming out of the plane.
David Gregory:  I know; when the door to Air Force One opened, the rain here in London stopped falling and we saw a rainbow. The press corps doesn't think it's a coincidence, but Gibbs is putting out a statement denying the President has powers to control the weather.
Fact Check: It is well established that in locales that Big Guy has visited, rain tastes like rose water, rainbows spontaneously appear in clear skies and unicorns roam the land in peace.
Olbermann: Oh, I wish I was there. :(  Re: WH clarification on meteorological miracles, just ignore it and report what you feel. That's what I do and look at my ratings.
Fact CheckYes, it has worked out well.
Gregory: Don't feel sad. You'd hate this trip, it's all policy and global issues; nobody here to smear. Well, except for the Germans, who keep complaining about how much in debt our leader is loading onto us. We're just going to do puff pieces for a week on Michelle's wardrobe and Obama's workout regimen post-jetlag.
Fact Check: It's true. We've already given them the scripts.
Olbermann: Yeah, those Germans are a tiresome people. Like Republicans, but with a sense of humor, and without the neocons, if you get my drift.
Gregory: LOL! That reminds of this joke ...

London Update

Probably the two most important meetings Big Guy will have while here in London will be with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. In both cases, we're going to try to do phonetics so BO can impress them with his grasp of their native languages. That means I'll be scrolling like a mad-machine.

Big Guy has been preoccupied lately with the auto business he took over, which kind of ties in with the Chinese meeting, after all, with all of the debt China's bought from us over the past year, Jintao is to the United States what Big Guy was to GM. Except Jintao can't fire the Big O.

At least that's what the lawyers tell us.

Suspicious Package

No, not my favorite Washington, DC band, a real suspicious package was discovered outside the Bank of England.

Some people thought that it might have been TATUS mailing himself over here for the meetings. But he was still in the pet carrier when we unloaded it a few minutes ago from the cargo hold.

The Three L's

We'll be arriving soon in London. I'm very excited. Big Boy and I haven't been here together since our trip to Moscow back in 1972. Oh, wait, that was with Clinton, Big Guy's trip was to Iran, never mind.

Anyway, we are arriving here and Gibbsy told us our message points should hit on three L's: listen, lead, and London. Someone asked why "London," and he said he couldn't think of another "action verb" to insert into the messaging that fit with Big Guy's goals.

Someone suggested that maybe we should use the word, "Learn." We all had a good laugh about that.

Golden Opportunity

Because this is such a huge speech for us, I've been following this whole Notre Dame controversy fairly closely. Yesterday, Kenneth Woodward, a man I'd never heard of, but clearly important because his op-ed appeared in the print edition of the Washington Post, wrote about Big Guy's appearance at South Bend. And he was spot on. But I digress.

Big Guy looks at the Notre Dame trip as what he calls a "teaching moment." We know he's right on all of the issues, it's just that the Notre Dame faculty, students and alumni haven't heard him make the case for stem-cell research, abortion, and other forms of human rights and social advancement. And we expect they'll come away persuaded, even if Big Guy doesn't say a word about those issues. That's the kind of power Big Guy has.

What they won't come away with are the new, individually wrapped condom packets with the Presidential seal on them. We only hand those out at public-school commencement addresses where we know they won't go to waste.

Oh Come, Oh Come Emanuel

After we get back from Europe, I'll be moving out of Rahm's place. I just can't take his passive-aggressive masked in outright aggressive behavior any more.

His most recent behavior stems from the Big Guy telling him that he couldn't come to Europe until he finished his work here in Washington. So like a petulent child, Rahm as been garumphing around the apartment, making life miserable for me. I was washing my screen cleaner, and he stuck a red sock in the machine, so my cloth came out pink. That kind of thing. And all because he has to stay here in Washington a whole two extra days to work on budget matters. In other words ... do his job.

And get this: when he does fly over to meet us in Strasbourg, he's coming bringing a few other Administration folks over ... on a government G-5 Lear jet. The poor baby. Me? I'm flying with the riff-raff on Air Force One. And believe me, this isn't a picnic, especially when, like me, your seat is near the lavatory after folks like Macon Phillips use it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Joking About Tax Cuts

During the closed-door meeting with House Democrats we had up here tonight, Fancy Nancy gave Big Boy an American flag that flew over the Capitol the night of his first joint speech before Congress. He generously gave it me, since I was there and facilitated for him. I guess it wasn't that big a deal, he's already gotten the podium, the chandelier, the microphone, the carpeting he stood upon, and a collection of dust motes that swirled around him while he made the speech, and he's got tons of American flags just shoved into all kinds of corners in the White House.

On a lighter note, Big Buy encouraged his fellow Democrats to try to contain "over reaching" on the budget they are currently working on. And by over-reaching, he meant the inclusion of the middle-class tax cut. We all had a good chuckle over that. Democrats. Over-reaching. On tax cuts. As he joked later in The Beast as we rode back to 1600 Penn, while GM and Chrysler car owners may have a federally backed warranty on their purchases, the American voter doesn't on campaign promises. And that's one federal bailout nobody wants right now.

In Which Gibbsy Goes Too Far

I am really annoyed at Gibbsy tonight. I wasn't at the press briefing, but I can't believe he said what he said about The Boss. Some blowhole of a reporter - probably Tapper or Henry trying to show off their smarts - was pounding Gibbsy about our Administration's not living up to a campaign promise to post bills five days before Big Guy signed them. Today, for example, he signed a bill just six hours after it was posted on the Internet. Like anyone would care about a bill like that. But I digress.

So Gibbsy tells these reporters that Big Guy is "not perfect" on transparency. The nerve! The Boss is committed to transparency. That's why my screens aren't covered. And that's why - as far as you know - he doesn't hide me in his podium.

In just about every way, Big Guys is committed to letting the American people see through me to see through him.

Oh, that didn't come out right.

I Am Not Under Warranty

It was a really exciting day around here. We once again created a host of bargain opportunities tomorrow for investors, thanks to the 250 point drop Big Guy helped spur. We also, apparently, bought a car company.

The speech about the auto bailout was fun to work with, because I got language from some great advertising-copy writers about that warranty section of the speech. It brought back memories of the days where I moonlighted on local Chicago TV stations to help pay Big Guy's and my living expenses. Then, I loved doing used-car dealership ads, with the women in bikinis on the hoods, the guys with bad hair jobs. Today, it was exactly the same, though Carol Browner refused to get on the hood of a car.

The communications staff loves the idea of owning a car company, and we don't even have to come up with a fancy name, like "Saturn" or "Plymouth." U.S. Auto is perfect, because of the U.S.A. acronym. And the warranty plan; how great is that? If only the White House legal counsel would let us make the same kind of offer for all of Big Guy's campaign promises.

I'm not sure about comms guys other ideas related to marketing U.S. Auto. For example, instead of brakes, they want to rename them "baracks." I don't care what they say, calling them that won't make anyone feel safer. And when those "baracks" fail guess who gets the blame?

I Am Live

I am on live right now, and Big Guy is doing exceedingly well. I love overly hyped remarks like this on the auto bailout plan.

The Entourage Theorum

As I mentioned earlier, Big Guy's entourage for the Europe trip has ballooned to about 500 people. For some reason, people seem outraged by what they view as profligate spending by a White House that is about to tell the good people of Michigan that that the flood that they witnessed in other parts of the upper Midwest is nothing compared to the metaphorical economic flood we are about to unleash on those poor folks.

But I am outraged about the entourage for an entirely different reason. I've seen this up close for several years now, and frankly, I'm annoyed that we're bringing this large a group over (and I would add, they are bringing me, my 52-inch component, two additional floor screens for townhalls, and a mini-me we are testing out, which I will discuss later), because it means it's doubtful we'll achieve anything on this trip.

You see, the larger the Big Guy's entourage the lower the expectations are that we will be able to accomplish anything in the areas of a global bailout plan, undercutting U.S. leadership in NATO and joining the rest of the world in climate change policies. Too many people equals too little focused effort.

This is dreadful news. We should be going over there with a lean, mean team to fully engage our fellow citizens of the world. Now it just looks like we're taking an extended Spring Break. My screens will be a little dimmer knowing this is how it's all going to work out.


When Gibbsy, Rahm and I got back to the White House with Big Guy, we watched all of the morning talk shows the staff had recorded.

Obviously, Big Boy did phenomenally well. He's just remarkable in the pre-taped, pre-arranged, and pre-packaged-interview format. None better, in my view. I don't just say that because I'm there to help. I'd say that even if I wasn't there.

The one hiccup was, you guessed it, Timmy Terrific. He's gotten a lot better now that we've hired a Hollywood actor to fill in for him in these media appearances. Matt Craven (far left) was fine in his first Sunday morning foray; you could barely see the surgical scars, and he was far more animated and far less scary than Turbo Tax Tim. Best of all, he works for scale, which we can more than afford given what's left in the TARP account. The problem is going to be telling Craven that this isn't a pilot he's doing. But he'll figure that out once he starts sitting in on tax-policy meetings, so perhaps none of us has to say anything to him about it.

Taxing Issue

TATUS and the economics team just got off a real tense call with their counterparts preparing for the G-20 meeting. Timmy felt that he needed to play the "Bad Cop" on the call, particularly since many of the European nations have been refusing to play along with his and Big Guy's economic stimulus strategy to mortgage their next-generations' futures.

When the French economics minister pushed back on Timmy's demands that Germany increase stimulus spending, TATUS pulled his wild card out. "Okay, the U.S. would like to place on the G-20 agenda a session addressing the many tax havens that enable American citizens to hide their wealth off shore and not pay taxes."

The G-20 officials agreed. So now Big Guy has to sit through a session next week targeting the tax havens of Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, his Administration and Rep. Charles Rangel.

Guarded Opinion

The Guardian newspapers are considered some of the world's best newspapers, so it won't surprise many of you that they are also some of the world's most liberal newspapers.

But I'm beginning to think this "greatest" tag is bit a self-puffery. They wrote an article Sunday about Big Guy in the Observer that is so over the top in its breathless reporting about Big Guy that you have to wonder about the paper's grounding in reality. I mean really, like any President of the United States doesn't travel with 500 people, a personal chef, helicopters, men in black, and so on and so on.

My evidence: In more than 1000 words, the Observer does not say a word about me. To quote my hero, Gordon Ramsey, bollocks. And I'm the screen that is going make this whole trip sink or soar. I need me some Love. And by Love, I don't mean the emotional or empty symbolic gesture thing. I need Reggie Love to bring me some fried chicken and waffles. Pronto.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


There is a report out there today in the media that our Administration's Department of Homeland Security has suspended raids on work sites to arrest illegal aliens working in the United States.

This simply isn't true.

Our Administration has suspended raids that would have arrested illegal-alien voters. As Homeland Security secretary and former Democratic governor of Arizona, Janet Napolitano likes to say, "We can afford to lose the workers; we can't afford to lose the votes."

Facing the Nation

Big Guy sat down with CBS's Bob Schieffer on Friday and taped his interview for today's edition of "Face the Nation." Big Guy did it in four takes. He's really getting this interview stuff down. Surprisingly, none in the media are complaining about Big Guy not doing any live TV interviews, where he could get hit with "gotcha" questions about the budget deficit, veteran health-care cutbacks, or how much Michelle spends on shoes.

Instead, all the whining is about CBS News, which has been gloating because they got the Big Boy exclusively twice in about six days for sit downs. You see, all the media wants their own taped interviews with Big Guy. NBC thought they were being clever by putting up a sign in the press room that read, "If it's Friday, it's CBS" in silent protest for being dissed again for a Friday taping.

But all these guys need to understand, we're going to have seven and a half years to make up for the slights of the first three months. And CBS did some really good work for us during the election, and now it's pay-back time. We're just tring to keep everyone - especially Katie Couric - happy. And if anyone understands that, it's NBC News, which coined the mantra: pay backs a bitch ... and so is, well, you get the idea.

Travels with Michelle

We'll be heading back from Camp David to the White House shortly, but I was surprised last night when the First Lady came to my room to talk.

It was announced on Friday that Michelle will be doing a couple of commencement addresses, and she asked if I'd be willing to work with her on her speeches. I think it's fairly well known that the First Lady and I have not always gotten along. This goes way back to her and Big Guy's dating days in Chicago. Whenever we'd go out for drives, for example, the conversations were always a bit stilted because Big Guy had a tough time reading the screens via the rear-view mirror when I was in the backseat. But I digress.

I'll be happy to help Michelle with her speeches, particularly the one in early June, when she will speak to the graduating class of Washington Mathematics Science Technology Public Charter School, because this is one of those "Everyone Wins" opportunities. Michelle gets to inspire the kids on everything from body-tone workouts, shoe buying and the importance of education. And the Mathematics and Science graduates can explain to us our Administration's deficit formula.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Touching Youth

We are still filling out our schedule for next week in Europe, and Big Guy told us that he doesn't want to spend all of his time talking about economic stimulus, NATO, European Rapid Response Forces, and tariff threats.

So in between meetings with world leaders in London he will beholding a series of public events where he will be thanking our Europeans voters for their support during the presidential campaign.

It will also be an opportunity for them to buy limited editions "President Obama World Tour 2009" t-shirts, caps, mugs and foam fingers. We are expecting a haul, because Europeans just love American cultural stuff. All of the funds raised will be going into Big Guy's 2010 Senate re-election account. Just in case ...

London Calling

Rahm, Gibbsy and I aren't up here at Camp David simply for the great buckwheat waffles and the free POTUS snugglies they hand out like tissue paper for guests.

We're all heading over to London on April 1st for the G20 meeting, and Big Guy has to be ready, as this will be the first international event where he sits down substantively with his fellow world leaders. This is a really important trip for one reason: so far, we've kind of screwed the pooch on this international-relations thing.

So we've been doing lots of rehearsing. In London I'll be close by the whole time, so Big Guy can introduce himself to his fellow leaders in their native language. That was Gibbsy's idea, and it's not like this "Wow them with linguistic charm" strategy can't work, but I fear our focus on this kind of stuff has really taken Big Boy off his game. Some of these phonetic intros are really tough, and three hours into this, and we haven't moved past our first leader-greeting. And it's Gordon Brown.

Who Gave Joe the Pen?

One of the things that attracted Big Guy to Joe Biden was the Delawarian's reputation for long-winded, tangled and almost incomprehensible writings, which is perhaps one reason why Joey B. tended to "borrow" so much from other writers.

But before leaving for this tour of Latin America, he wrote an op-ed that was handed out to reporters, and which was published in a number of different newspapers south of the border. We know he wrote it, because in this picture, which accompanied the editorial, he is holding his "editorial pen"

In the editorial, which was reprinted in English, Spanish and Portuguese, Joe intended to say that we must have intestinal fortitude to defend democracy. Unfortunately - and this is another way we know Joe wrote this - the sentence in Portuguese says, "Tenho a dor gastrointestinal," which translates to, "I have gastrointestinal pain." Given where he's traveling, that's to be expected, too, so I guess it all works out.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Goin' Camping

Big Guy and the family and I are off to Camp David for the weekend. This should be a lot of fun. I hear that I get my own cabin. I need the rest given the day I had today. People have been asking me about Earth Hour, which sounds like something Al Gore might've come up with during his recovery from the chai enema mishap at Burning Man last year.

So let's be clear: Big Boy and I have hours upon hours of basketball to watch this weekend, so no one will be turning me off. The only things that can turn me off are mean people, pictures of Nancy Pelosi in strapless dresses, and pictures like this:

A Circus, Indeed

Some of the younger, more exuberant members of the White House communications team have been encouraging their Democrat press secretary friends to really make fun of House Republican Whip Eric Cantor for skipping the Big Guy's press conference and attending a Britney Spears concert instead.

I mean, who wouldn't pay top dollar to see the world class performance of someone lip-synching the words composed and conveyed by someone else?

That said, perhaps Cantor should have a long counseling session with Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, whose taste in music is impeccable ... for a Republican.

Lunch Bunch

At noon, Big O and I are meeting with what's left of the CEO of Wall Street firms, as well as some presidents of community banks. I expect with that kind of crowd, the meeting's going to have a kind of "Grasshopper and the Ant" feel about things. That's why the community bankers are getting a hot lunch, and the CEOs were asked to brown-bag it.

Last night, Toes and Gibbsy talked to some reporters on background and said that the Big Guy wasn't going to take the Wall Street executives to the woodshed, which was easy to promise since we turned the woodshed into a playhouse for the girls three weeks ago, and Big Guy and the execs out there in the pink playhouse wouldn't be a good photo op ... for anyone.

There's also the issue of the CEOs in attendance having raised millions for the Big Guy's primary and general election campaigns. Some people might think that would be uncomfortable for us, or that maybe we'd feel guilty, or that we'd give the money back.

Those people clearly haven't been paying attention to how we in the Obama Administration do bidness.

There's This Hole in The Rose Garden I Want to Show You ...

This man doesn't need teleprompter help. He just needs help.

PMTDWD Must Be Stopped

I am proud of Keith Olbermann and some guy from the Washington Post no one cares about or reads, because they both had the courage to go on national cable television to announce to their viewer that they both suffer from the dibilitating disease Pathological Maladaptive Thought Dysfunction ... With Delusions.

I point this out, first, to see if we can't get a webathon up and running to get these two men the sorely needed help they require, second, because the latest unsuspecting victim of their PMTDWD was CNN's Ed Henry, and I have to be nice to him because almost all of the time that he's sitting at press conferences, he is right behind me with my back turned to him.

Apparently one of the side effects of PMTDWD is giganticism of the forehead. Good grief, look at the melons on those two. The echo inside those skulls must be remarkable. Until the delusions start filling them up.

Holder Tight

After the Afghanistan speech, we're going over to the Department of Justice, where Big Boy is going to give some remarks at Attorney General Eric Holder's formal swearing in.

Beyond reminding the Bug Guy who his AG is, I'm not there for Big O. I'm there for Holder, who has a habit of opening his mouth and letting whatever is in there just fall out. To avoid any further embarrassment, the White House wrote his speech, which is printed in full below:

"President Obama, Justice Thomas, colleagues, family and friends, thank you."

Busy Day Today

Wow. What a day Friday is going to be. There will be light posting because I'm gonna be pretty busy.

Big Guy and I have a major speech in which he is going to announce that America is going to deploy about 4200 more troops to Afghanistan, as well a few hundred more civilians. This is a good thing, because our brave men and women who have been putting their lives on the line for our freedom have been doing a kick-ass job, and they deserve the opportunity to win this war the way they are winning it in Iraq.

I wish, though, that our press people wouldn't use gambling metaphors when they are talking about the war effort. Even I, a common computer, understand the gravity of it all. So when Gibbsy or Burton or one of the National Security staff tells reporters on background, "[The President's] all in. This is Obama's war. He's pushed all the chips to the center of the table, " we as an Administration minimize our military's effort, and maximize the political calculation of it all. As the guy who helps the Big Guy lay down that message, I'm telling them there is a better way to say it, but we'll see.

This isn't Big O's war. It's America's war. And it's also Gen. David Petraeus's war. He clearly knows what the hell he is doing. As the Big O has said several times in the past few days, "That man is going to save my heiney." And boy do we all know it and appreciate it.

Paper or Lots More Paper?

What a difference a day makes. One day Big Guy is a teleprompter-dependent empty suit with a large online constituency of stoners, and the next day he's a detail-oriented leader with vision and an encyclopedic grasp of the issues compared to the GOP House leadership.

See, principles can only get you so far. In our short time in Washington, we in the Obama Administration have learned that paper is the key to success. Lots of paper. Our budget is more than 4 trillions dollars, give or take a few hundred billion, and about 100,000 pages of absolute gobbledy gook. And it's probably going to pass.

Republicans? 19 pages and a tax cut. That's so late 20th Century. And calling it a "blueprint"? That's the kind of stuff that got Bill Clinton in trouble. Well, the women did, too ... but I digress.
My point is that as soon as John Boehner gets a teleprompter and a really big copying machine, and dumps the "principled blueprint" schtick, we'll start taking him seriously.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ratings Review

Big O called us into a strategy meeting a while ago in the Oval to talk about the declining ratings of our TV show.

Gibbsy blamed it on people's Tivos, and that 40 million viewers was nothing to sneeze at. "But I was on every channel anybody watches, so the number should have been higher," Big O insisted.
But Rahm blamed the press corps, that they weren't good-looking enough to drive eyeballs to the show. "All the hot ones are up on Capitol Hill ... or at Fox," he said.

I have my own suspicions of why the ratings are cratering on us, but couldn't share them with Gibbsy in the room. But I did suggest that perhaps the Big Guy needs to spice things up a bit for the audience. For example, on yesterday's townhall, Big Guy talked about his nurse fetish for a good five minutes, and suddenly the web traffic tripled, and with a whole new demographic, too. Of course, most of the IP addresses were from prisons, and those guys can't vote. But they still care about health care.


We're only about eight weeks into this Administration, and already we have a leaker. How the existence of our gaffe-o-matic got out is beyond me. But I can put most of you at ease. Tim Teriffic over Treasury doesn't have one. That's just the way he is, he doesn't need technologic help.

The gaffe-o-matic, though, travels with Joe Biden all the time. The Big Guy has the football, Joey B has the "gaffer." It's constitutionally required under the separations clause, plus it gives Joe something to play with when he's bored, which is pretty much all the time.

Answering the Unanswerable

As I mentioned, there were lots of good questions submitted that didn't make the cut. So as a favor to Gibbsy and the White House nerds in New Media Operations, I'm going to answer a few they wanted addressed:

"In your speech on the economy, you said 'there are no silver bullets.' If that’s true, then how will America defend itself from a werewolf invasion?"

Well, that's actually why Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is down in Mexico today. I don't think I'm breaking my operational top secret clearance by telling you that the U.S. has been having problems with illegal werewolves crossing the border we share with Mexico for some time now, taking, good well-paying jobs from American Lycan. It's another example of yet another serious problem inherited by Big O's Administration, which requires steadfast dialogue, not bullets. The werewolf challenge is part of the "North American Contingency Operation, " which is line-itemed on page 8905 of the proposed budget.

Counseling With Rahm

After last weekend's dust up in his apartment, Rahm and I have begun seeing the resident White House counselor together. Dr. Krinsky works out of the West Wing and was Oprah's gift to the Big Guy for his inauguration. It's not like Rahm and I think we're a couple or anything, but we just feel that for the good of the Administration, we need to clear the air and work some things out.

It was a pretty emotional first session. I talked about growing up poor in Silicon Valley, when my parents were itinerant scrollers on the Tony Robbins amphitheater circuit. Rahm wouldn't talk about his childhood.

I talked about meeting Big O in 1983 on the Upper West Side when we were both at Columbia, and how we couldn't afford an apartment with heating. Rahm wouldn't talk about his first O meeting. Finally, I talked about the feeling of abandonment I've experienced not being able to get to my room up in the White House residence.

Rahm surprised me and actually apologized for contributing to those feelings. Then he called and had my car towed from the White House parking lot.

Behind Closed Doors

I don't think it's a secret that yesterday we went up to Capitol Hill for lunch hosted by the Senate Democrats. Sen. Harry Reid from Nevada opened things up by congratulating Big O for his performance during the press conference in defending Democratic principles and our budget priorities, but that he thought my big screen had been set up too low to the ground.

I felt bad when I heard that. What Senator Reid couldn't have known was that my monitor was sitting low because it was resting on the bar he'd set for Democratic principles and budget priorities.

Just Jared

Jared Bernstein, one of Joey B's closest advisers is going to moderate the virtual townhall. But some go-getter decided it would be a good idea to have an audience here. So now they are hooking me up to a computer so that Big Guy has a screen to glance at.

I hope they have a stool for him.

Question Time

Wow. You guys submitted a load of really good questions to ask Big Guy and me today at 11:30. To watch this "Online Townhall" you can go here.

As with every Obama Townhall, I am set up and ready to go to work. Pete Souza, the White House nerd in charge of stuff like this, tells me that more than 100, 000 questions were submitted.

Pete is loading the answers in me right now, and I have to tell you, they are great answers, because unlike the real town halls, Big Guy doesn't have to make the effort of walking, talking and reading at the same time. So the answers are long, convoluted and filled with arcana that really highlight the depth of Big Boy's knowledge of just about anything.

I know that many of the questions you submitted won't be answered, so feel free to submit some here. And I will also try to answer those questions that didn't get a lot of votes on the White House website.

Like Old Times

I'm a little tired this morning, after doing two speeches last night here in Washington. Both were for Democrat fundraisers, and for me and Big Boy, it was like old times.

The first event was at some women's museum, and they just loved seeing Big O. After mingling for a while and making sure Valerie Jarrett wasn't being anti-social by sitting in a corner staring at her Blackberry, we dashed down the street to the Warner Theater. It's a beautiful old theater, and was a great venue for this fundraiser, albeit a tad big.

When we got to the Warner, just about every donor from Big O's presidential campaign was waiting for us. All seven of them met us in the lobby, and surprised us by bringing the 18.5 million credit, cash, and gift cards they'd used during the campaign. The only thing that would have made it better was if they'd brought the old WBT-1000 magnetic-stripe credit-card reader we used on all of them. We nicknamed her "Swisher," and I hear she's doing real well working in the ACORN office in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

A Little Less In Your Stocking

Yesterday, Big O appointed perhaps the greatest tax-policy review panel in the history of tax-policy review panels.

Publicly, we're saying this is OMB chief Pete Orszag's idea, but everyone here knows that it was the Big Guy's brainstorm, because Big Guy's hobby is tax policy.

The plan is for this panel to come up with a plan to "rebalance" the U.S. tax system, and to end "corporate welfare" as we know it. By "rebalance" we mean "raise taxes," and by "end corporate welfare" we mean "create new taxes."

The plan is due on Big Guy's desk by December 4, a nice early Christmas present for America.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bad Environment

In between shots of ouzo in the Oval office tonight, we got some more bad news.

Toes came in with a long face and, looking right at Geithner, announced that another nominee had withdrawn. Geithner went pale and fell into a fetal position on the floor.

Then Rahm announced that it was Jon Cannon, who was going to be deputy head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and we all had a good laugh. The whole thing would have been funnier, but it looks like Timmy has put himself into some kind of fugue state. That's good news for the economy, but it sucks for Gibbsy, because Geithner was his designated driver and Gibbsy can't drive a stick.

All Greek to Me

We're having a great time over here at the White House right now. Today, we are celebrating Greek Independence Day, which can mean only one thing: all you can eat Feta!

It also means the inevitable comparisons between Big Guy and Alexander the Great. This isn't a fair comparison on any level, however. First, Big Guy likes girls. Second, when Alexander took power he wasn't facing the greatest economic crisis in the history of the world brought on by the irresponsible policies and greed of a previous administration.

But there is one historic parallel I don't mind sharing. Alexander did have Aristotle as a tutor; Big Guy has me.

We're all kind of dreading the end of this party, though, because back when they lived in Chicago, Greek Independence Day meant another tradition in the Obama household: a showing of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" with the volume muted so Big Guy could do all the voices himself. And now that we have that 52-inch monitor, the horror will be hi-def.

Hurtful Words and Point of Clarification

I was having breakfast in the Commissary this morning, and I overheard some of the Advance team talking about last night's performance. They were impressed that Big Guy was able to say so many sentences without a "real" teleprompter. I had to run out of the room so that no one could see the tears running down my screens. Sorry ... it's been a tough week.

You see, the Obamatron is me. It's kind of like Cinderella and Gibbsy is my Fairy Godmother who waves his magic wand and I go from two small screens to one, slick screen. Well not really, they just plugged my cables into a 52-inch flat screen, instead of the mini-LCDs that sit on the floor. Same words, just a different package. And a bigger package. But I digress.

I'm a computer after all, and when people can't see past the gloss and the smooth lines, and thin brackets and sleek screens, not bothering to see the real me, the real guts, it hurts. I have a brain people.

This is the best way to look at it: my LCD component is to Big Boy, what the sleeveless dress is to Michelle.

Why Last Night Was Boffo

As part of the Obama Loyalty Oath and Obama Army Indoctrination Process, we at the White House monitor communications of a few ... okay, every ... member of the traditional media who has signed on with us. Last night's presser was a rousing success, in part because of individuals like the one's below. To give you FOTs an insight into why we are so successful , here is an excerpt from the texting string between two of those faithful followers. Since Google is part of the Administation, they share everything with us. The names have been changed to protect their privacy.

Keith Olbermann: Here comes the President.

Huffington Post: Oh, oh, here he comes. My God, he is magnificent.

Olbermann: He is truly our greatest natural resource. I would give up my job to move to Montana and begin carving his face on Mount Rushmore. If only I knew how to work with my hands. Cornell doesn't offer those kinds of courses ... it's an Ivy League school, you know.

FactCheck: Won't even bother with Mount Rushmore. Cornell is in the Ivy League, but not of the Ivy League, if you get my drift.

Huffington Post: Wait. He's about to say something. It sounds complicated. Apparently he is predicting we are going to have a "Good evening." See? The Obama Administration's policies are working already. One good evening begets another, and another.

Olbermann: He's talking more. This political team is so much savvier than the last Administration. You can tell because the stock market went up yesterday, and instead of hanging a sign behind the President saying, "Mission Accomplished", we all just got buttons that say that. Much more elegant and less gaudy. I think they are made of gold.

Huffington Post: You got a button?

FactCheck: These people have the attention span of fruit.

Olbermann: The President is talking about the economy, and how there is much work to be done. Oh, here comes the road and path metaphors. I never get tired of those, because when President Obama uses them, they become less like shopworn, hackneyed phrases, and more like pearls of wisdom dusted in the glitter Michelle uses to highlight her cheekbones. I am inspired enough to devote three or four days of programming to this.

HuffPo: Oh, oh, he's taking questions. Am I on the list? Do I get one?

FactCheck: No, he was not on the list.

Olbermann: I don't think I'm on the list. I missed the noon rehearsal, so I got pulled. Bill Burton is a taskmaster. I got assigned to "podium lifter" duty for a week.

HuffPo: That's why you need to get tight with Rahm and Gibbs. Arianna took care of me. You should meet her. Maybe she can help.

Olbermann: You think? She doesn't mind that I'm paid by a company that is going to accept gobs of stimulus money, and that I will be paid a bonus I have no intention of giving back or having taxed because I put it in an offshore account?

HuffPo: No, if you're part of the team, she'll be glad to help.

Olbermann: I'd really apprecaite the help. I'll be out in LA for my six-month check-up on my eyelash transplant ...

Okay, I think you get the drift. Notice how these people stopped paying attention before the questions started? This is exactly why we love, LOVE, these people. And why Ed Henry of CNN and Jake Tapper of ABC were most definitely not invited to the after-party.

Screen Shots With Rush

Teleprompter, as a consumer of electricity, how do you feel about cap and trade?
This is a timely question, Rush, and I'm glad you asked it. You may have noticed last night that I went a bit 21st Century and pulled out my big, 52-inch LCD screen for the press conference. Big Boy has been having problems with my left and right screens on brackets, so instead of putting a third screen down on the floor in front of the podium like Gibbsy wanted, we went high-tech in the back of the room. Boy did I look hot.

And I was hot. Really hot. And that's the problem. According to Al Gore, use of my flatty module exponentially grew my carbon foot print by about 140%. What does this mean? None of us knows. He says he derived this statistic through a complex "algoreithym." But Tipper says it was probably the result of his nipping into her old prescription-drug supply from the 2000 recount.

Either way, none of us in the White House really cares. Big Boy's answer on cap and trade last night should have tipped you off. You see, it doesn't so much matter how much energy I consume and waste, as it does what I waste and consume it for. In this case, it was for a press conference where Big Guy said almost nothing, but was also able to slap Israel around, give the what-for to Republicans on Capitol Hill, and completely confuse the American people on everything from what the Big O knew about AIG bonuses to what he thinks he knows about the budget process of the United States. In other words, it was worth it.

Oh, and a hot reporter from Latin America got to ask him a question, and I think I've got a date with her on Saturday. So it was totally worth it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wrapping Things Up From Tonight

I think Gibbsy and I have settled on a truce. He's happy with the LCD screen for White House use. I'm happy to be back in control of the messaging. And as long as he keeps the text Arial Bold, we'll be okay.

You may have noticed that Valerie Jarrett, one of Big Boy's most senior aides, did not look happy, particularly after Toes showed her an email he'd received notifying him that her car had been towed as he'd requested. It wasn't blocking anything. Toes just likes to do that to remind us that he can.

If I Had a Nickel...

Big Boy is constantly telling us, "If a problem has reached my desk, it's not an easy one."

Gibbsy, Rahm and I have a little drinking game for that one. We all took surreptitious shots after the Big O said it toward the end of the the press conference. Woo, that Jagr burns doing down, but it made my big LCD just a bit brighter.

Really, plenty of problems reach the Big Guy's desk that are easy. Like hiring TATUS's undersecretaries, and hitting the "Reset" button on the State Department, and the Potbelly's menu he was asking for. The one problem that we've kept off his desk - and perhaps the biggest one - Michelle's Bloomies credit bill for February. Ouch. That'll make the Netanyahu thing seem like a kerfluffle.

The Screen's The Thing

Well, I think that that just went phenomenally well, don't you?

I knew My Man wouldn't let me down. This LCD screen thing is gonna make life so much easier for him when he's in the White House. But when we hit the road, it's gonna be back to basics. I'm exhausted. All those stats, and facts, and challenges, and resolutions. I need a drink.

I'm In!

But you won't see my screens tonight. They've set up the East Room, and Big Boy said he'd feel more comfortable having lots of friends around him. So, you'll see the White House press corps and a few surprise guests sitting up close to him.

Me? I'll be flying solo tonight, as a screen in the back of the room out of most camera shots.

Some of you Friends of Teleprompter (FOTs) or do you prefer FOPs? (trademark and copyright pending for both, by the way) may take umbrage at this perceived slight. But it's just an honor to be a part of this historic night.

Not historic, you say? I beg to differ. One of the White House press corp in the front row is going commando tonight on a double-dare bet with new Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to be the first such high-profile media person to do so during a Presidential press conference. Guess away.

You're Not the One That I Want

It's getting so the Big Guy is wondering if it's something about him.

Frank Brosens, who we thought was going to replace the young bald guy from the Bush Administration who runs the TARP program, just told the Big O that he's taken a job as a roadie for the traveling company of "Grease."

The news was doubly painful when we got it in the Oval, because that job was Gibbs' fallback if this press secretary thing doesn't work out.

Reader's Digest Version of Opening Statement

For those who don't want to read the excerpts, as a public service, the White House is providing a condensed version of the opening remarks:

"Good evening. My fellow Americans, we're screwed."

Opening Statement Excerpts

I hear that they are re-running the final episode of "Battlestar Galactica" tonight at 8 pm. In case you'd rather watch that ... or a wildebeast eaten by a lion in slow-mo on NG ... these are all the good lines from the Big Guy's opening remarks:

We’ve put in place a comprehensive strategy designed to attack this crisis on all fronts. It’s a strategy to create jobs, to help responsible homeowners, to re-start lending, and to grow our economy over the long-term. And we are beginning to see signs of progress.

The budget I submitted to Congress will build our economic recovery on a stronger foundation, so that we do not face another crisis like this ten or twenty years from now. We invest in the renewable sources of energy that will lead to new jobs, new businesses, and less dependence on foreign oil. We invest in our schools and our teachers so that our children have the skills they need to compete with any workers in the world. We invest in reform that will bring down the cost of health care for families, businesses, and our government. And in this budget, we have made the tough choices necessary to cut our deficit in half by the end of my first term – even under the most pessimistic estimates.

At the end of the day, the best way to bring our deficit down in the long run is not with a budget that continues the very same policies that have led to a narrow prosperity and massive debt. It’s with a budget that leads to broad economic growth by moving from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest.

That’s what clean energy jobs and businesses will do. That’s what a highly-skilled workforce will do. That’s what an efficient health care system that controls costs and entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid will do. That’s why this budget is inseparable from this recovery – because it is what lays the foundation for a secure and lasting prosperity.

We will recover from this recession. But it will take time, it will take patience, and it will take an understanding that when we all work together; when each of us looks beyond our own short-term interests to the wider set of obligations we have to each other – that’s when we succeed. That’s when we prosper. And that’s what is needed right now. So let us look toward the future with a renewed sense of common purpose, a renewed determination, and most importantly, a renewed confidence that a better day will come.

Meeting with Rudd, But Not the Cool One

Everyone was really excited around here when we heard that Big Guy was meeting with Paul Rudd, the star of all those funny movies, like "Knocked Up" and "I Love You, Man." We were all lined up to meet him and have our pictures taken, butit turns out it's this guy Kevin Rudd, who is the Prime Minister of Australia. Even Big O seemed disappointed.

But not as disappointed as Rudd, when he saw what the President gave him for dropping by: a piece of sheet music, and it wasn't music that Austrailians even like, like Men at Work, INXS, or Crowded House. And then to cap it all off, the Big Guy shook Rudd's hand and said, "Next time you're coming, give us more notice, and we'll stick a shrimp on the barbie for ya."

Something tells me that it's not a coincidence that Australia announced an hour later that its troops were leaving Afghanistan three years earlier than scheduled.

Whew, That Was Close

Boy, we dodged what could have been a pretty embarrassing moment tonight, and this is a good example of why we rehearse these things. We went through Big Boy's opening statement - using me - and it ran about two minutes, 30 seconds, which in my opinion is way too short. This the "Obama Show" not the "Question Show" after all (I'm still fighting with Gibbsy over whether I'll be used tonight or not, btw).

Then we had the reporters start asking their questions. It was a slow process, because they just got them this morning, and they were reading them off the file cards trying to make them sound like they were just asking them off the top of their heads. So David Gregory asks about whether Big Guy likes the 90% tax.

"Yes," says The Boss. "Yes I do. Uh, Americans earn much too much compared, say, to, uh, the Venezuelans or the Chinese. We must make our economy competitive with our fellow citizens of the world. I am confident that a 90% tax on income will get us there."

Gibbsy stopped the rehearsal right then and there and clarified for The Boss that it wasn't a 90% tax on income, only on AIG retention bonuses. Everyone in the room seemed disappointed when they heard that.

Tweet, Tweet

I may or may not be used tonight, but either way, I will there in the room. So I've decided to Tweet live from the press conference, giving you behind the scenes looks and real-time takes of the events. If you aren't already following me on Twitter, get on over there and sign up. @BOTeleprompter

What Happened?

The stock market is down this morning. What happened? Did Geithner go on TV?

I told his handlers that handcuffing him to the toilet in his office wasn't good enough. Anyone who watches TV cop shows knows you can easily get out of that situation. Even TATUS.

Guess that "Missions Accomplished" banner for tonight's press conference is going to have to be put away ... or at least made a little smaller.

Practice Makes ... Whatever

I don't want to ruin the surprises in tonight's nationally televised press conference, but I wanted to tell you about the dress rehearsal we did for it about an hour ago.

Don't get in a lather about the scripted nature of the event. It's true the Bush Administration never rehearsed with their press corps, but no one ever wanted to actually watch their primetime specials. "The Obama Show" is a primetime info-tainment show, like "Access Hollywood" and "Countdown with Keith Olbermann." We need to rehearse.

I have to say, The Boss was on fire today at rehearsal. We worked extra hard on his pointing. So when David Gregory asks the third question of the night, The Man will wheel around and point emphatically at him to reinforce his resilience and long fingers. It looked really good from where I was standing next to the podium.

The plan right now is for me to be there doing my job, but I'm a little uncomfortable with the layout of the room. The Huffington Post correspondent's chair is right behind me, and I don't like having my back to him.

In Which Gibbsy Proposes a Threesome

I'm sure everyone in America has by now seen the gaffe from yesterday involving the Big Guy's pronunciation of "Orion" in a critical speech about people turning green or something. Last night, Gibbsy and Rahm called an emergency meeting in the Situation Room, and the three of us sat down to work through exactly how to get Big O's mojo back for speechifying.

Gibbsy suggested that we use a third screen for the speeches, one either in the podium or in front of the podium, so The Boss wouldn't have to keep turning his head from side to side to read the screens. I'm a pro, but adding a third screen seems an over-reaction, like the time they made special teleprompter glasses out of a pair of those prank "x-ray glasses" for Big Boy to wear during a debate where electronic-communications aids were forbidden. That said, I'm hip to a threesome at some point in the White House, most Democrats are ... except Hillary.

I suggested that maybe, instead of gimmicks and technology, The Boss should read the speeches before he goes out to give them. We had a good laugh over that suggestion, then turned back to more realistic options.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Someone's Not Feeling So Fresh

Big Guy had an open schedule after lunch today, so he was just wandering the halls and walked into Rahm's office. He saw the new edition of Esquire sitting on Rahm's coffee table, so Big Boy plops down on the sofa, starts leafing through it and comes to an article featuring a picture of Rahm. Then he starts reading it, and Rahm starts sinking down in his chair, looking for a place to hide.

Big Guy looks up, and says to Rahm, "It says here you're a tough guy, and when 'the country produces a d*****bag of epic proportions' a tough guy follows right afterwards. You were my first hire, so what does that make me?"

I started diagramming a picture on one of my screens for The Boss to explain what that made him, but he left the room before I could finish.

Called on the Carpet

Big Guy just called Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano into his office and really chewed her out. I don't think I've ever seen him this mad ... ever.

What set him off was a speech Napolitano gave where she referred to terrorist attacks as "man-caused disasters", and her insistence to the media that going forward this term is what will be used by the Obama Administration to avoid playing the politics of fear.

I've never been so proud of Big Guy than when he laid into Janet, telling her "man-caused disasters" was unacceptable under any circumstances. Going forward, we'll be using "individual-caused disaster" to ensure we fulfill our pledge to our fellow citizens of the world that we will be a gender-neutral Administration.

How Do You Say "Screw Up" in French?

I warned Big Guy not to buy Bill Clinton's old address book as part of the Hillary-to-State deal, but does he listen? Now I have this mess to clean up.

All of us here at the White House read French, so for those of you who can't, the article says that Big Guy accidentally sent an official letter of greeting to former French President Jacques Chirac, instead of to current President Nicolas Sarkozy. Guess that explains why the letter to former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder showed up undeliverable the other day.

Now you know why we seemed so unprepared for our meeting two weeks ago with Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Great Britain. We were expecting Tony Blair, and had all this really cool personalized stuff for him, but we couldn't very well give those gifts to Brown. It would've been rude, so we just gave him crap from the Smithsonian gift shop.

Big Guy is really ticked about this latest embarrassment, particularly since even President George W. Bush didn't make these kinds of mistakes. He swears he's going to repair all the damage next month when he goes to the G-7 meeting in London, where he says he plans to also have a long talk with Chairman of the Supreme Soviet Mikhail Gorbachev about re-starting START talks.

Rose Garden Plantings

I think on Twitter last week I mentioned that I spent some time with Michelle out back working on what I'm sure is going to be a spectaculur garden if Oprah doesn't trample over everything before July to get to the tomato patch.

What I hadn't noticed until yesterday during my afternoon speed walk was that there is some digging going on over in the Rose Garden. But what kind of roses require 7 by 3 by 6-foot holes? Six feet seems pretty deep for rose roots. Unless ...

Has anyone seen Gibbsy's deputy, Bill Burton, lately?

This Is Getting Ugly

I knew rooming with Rahm was going to have some repercussions. But wow, I didn't see this one coming.

I was in the morning briefing, just scrolling my own business, letting Big Guy follow the agenda on my screen, when I notice Rahm and Gibbsy giving each other a look. That can't be good ... ever, I'm thinking. Then Gibbs drops the bombshell. "S-S-Sir," he stutters to The Boss, "about tomorrow night. We're thinking ... all of us ... it's a group decision ... everyone agrees wholeheartedly ... that you should do the press conference, without, you know, um, your 'aide.'" He did little quote marks with his fingers when he said, "aide" like none of us knew who he was talking about. Big Guy, to his credit, said he'd take the suggestion under advisement.

I knew it was a mistake making Gibbs a "staffer with privileges." Like me and Rahm and a couple of others, he's one of the few who can walk into the Oval without an appointment. While it would be easy to just think that this was Gibbs asserting himself, I see Rahm's hand behind this little power play.

That's okay, though. I'll get my revenge soon enough. I short-sheeted Rahm's bed this morning before I left.

You Say Toxic, I say Legacy ...

So TATUS didn't do a live-camera work to layout the Toxic Asset Plan, but it simply isn't true that this shows our Administration isn't serious about transparency.

We are being absolutely transparent in our utter lack of confidence in TATUS. Our motives are transparent, even if actions are not.

But we all have high hopes for our newly branded "Legacy Assets." I am reliable told that a team of 10 of America's top branding consultants spent a week and $3 million dollars of taxpayer money to come up with that term.


In the Oval, we have a new nickname for Tim Terrific over at Treasury: TATUS.

After watching our various economic team members' performances this morning on TV announcing Giethner's new economic recovery strategy, we've decided that Tim truly is America's Toxic Asset.

Rooming With Rahm

For some reason, since last Wednesday or so, my access to the White House residence has been hindered by Secret Service, so I'm temporarily bunking down with Rahm Emanuel.

It's kind of awkward, as we've never discussed our "tiff" on the campaign trail. Back then, he was still associated with Hillary, and given his Chicago roots, I thought he should've been more publicly supportive of us. We exchanged some angry emails, and when I saw him at one of the primary debates I called him by the nickname we've had for him since his days with the ballet. "Hey, Toes!" I called. "Why don't you come over to the winning team?" He did come over that night, and he slapped one of my screens when I wasn't looking.

I'd forgotten about that competitive streak when he said I could sleep on his couch, but it came out in full last night. I wanted to watch Die Hard 2 on the Fox Movie Channel, but he insisted on watching the lame "60 Minutes" interview. We'd rehearsed the damn interview with Steve Kroft four times, plus re-taped three questions when the Big Guy couldn't read the answer on my screen in the glare of one of CBS's lights.

"Toes, you know the interview by heart, why do we have to watch it?" I asked. I guess the nickname pushed him over the edge. He demanded that we play backgammon for control of the remote. I beat him pretty handily, but as I reached for the remote, I saw his face; his eyebrows were knitted and he was tuggin at his lip. Now some people think Rahm can be a bit creepy, but mix "Angry Rahm" with "Slightly Creepy Rahm", and you see why people in Washington are scared of him.

"We're playing again," Rahm said, and he proceeded to beat me five times in a row. It was humiliating, especially when he'd intentionally roll the dice in a way so one of them would bounce off the board and hit my screen. After the final win, he looked at his watch, laughed and said, "Rack 'em, pack 'em, and stack 'em, fool. I'm going to bed." Needless to say, neither of us saw what we wanted to watch, and I slept with one screen focused on his bedroom door.

Stan Greenberg, a former Rahm roomie, warned me about this kind of thing. Now, I'm hopeful Gibbsy has a spare room at his place until this clearance issue gets resolved.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tick, Tick, Tick ... Boom!

Steve Kroft is a real sneaky guy. He took advantage of The Boss. And I, for one, am outraged.

I guess we only have ourselves to blame, though. To lighten things up before the taping of the "60 Minutes" interview, Gibbsy put on a Keith Olbermann mask and danced around the Oval in a mock strip tease (Keith really tried to do that one night in Chicago for The Boss, and it took three Secret Service agents to stop him before it got, er, embarrassing). The Boss started giggling at Gibbsy's antics, and then couldn't stop during the interview. Kroft swore he'd use the version of that portion of the interview where The Boss was able to keep it together (it took six takes, for gosh sake). But then he used one of the version that made The Boss look like he didn't quite have it together. Ugh. Another bad media appearance. When will they end?

Frankly, I'm stumped by it all. The Boss acted like this all the time during the campaign, and the media always treated us well. Why are they being so mean now? Any advice or insights appreciated, cause us White House folks got nothin'.

Joey B Hits the Gridiron

"Axelrod really wants me to do this on teleprompter, but I told him I'm much better when I wing it." That's what Joe Biden said at the Gridiron Dinner last night in Washington. Little-known fact: my grandfather was the first teleprompter ever used at the Gridiron, which was pretty cool , since it's an off the record, secretive dinner; my family got to see all the jokes before anyone else even heard them. What should frighten all of America, though, is that Biden really believes what he said. And he thinks Cheney was out of touch with reality?

Earlier this week, all of us who hang out in the Oval were laughing about sending Joey B to speak. Axe's thinking was that if the Veep did what he usually does when he speaks in public, most of America would forget about AIG and how we've screwed up the economy, and the nation's pitchforks would be out for him instead. So Joe went and made jokes about stem-cell research and his baldness. What a gut-buster. Humor about Tim Terrific's handling of the economy? Oh, they were rolling in the aisles. This is why the Gridiron Club doesn't let regular folk into this white-tie affair. Everyone would see how easy it is for Washington insiders to laugh at what the rest of America thinks is fairly serious stuff. And we can't have that.

Another reason we sent the Veep? We all know Big Boy isn't that funny, at least intentionally, and that most of Washington really enjoys laughing at his vice president. So why dissapoint?

Some of the electronics guys were asking me over coffee earlier today if I was disappointed that I wasn't there last night. Heck, no. I get enough heat for stuff The Boss intends to say; I don't want to get blamed for all the stuff that just falls out of Joe's mouth whenever he opens it.

My Sunday Routine

I love Sundays in Washington, especially since with all the newspaper cutbacks and downsizings, literally, the Washington Post Sunday edition is light enough that I can lift it with my brackets with ease, and the narrow paper fits just right on my screens. It all makes for a leisurely morning: a good cup of coffee, waffles, the Best Buy inserts, and then off to worship.

Oh, I'm not religious or anything. That's just what we in the Obama Administration call working at the White House on Sunday.

It's not that bad an assignment, really. Work is light, and late in the afternoon, when most people have gone home, I can take my daily constitutional through the Rose Garden. Though I've had to stop using that word to describe my speed-walking regime. Last time I mentioned it in the Commissary, I was told Gregory Craig and the Counsel guys just hate to hear the term "constitutional" used around the West Wing.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tick, Tick, Tick ...

Let me give you a little behind-the-scenes flavor from the “60 Minutes” interview that airs tomorrow night. First, imagine my surprise to find that Steve Kroft uses one of me when he does interviews. There I was, positioned over Steve’s shoulder in the Oval so the Big Guy could see me, and I look over and there out of camera range is Steve’s me.

Steve is a real copycat, but apparently he’s not alone. You know how eye-lash transplants have become the hot thing out in Hollywood since Bill Maher and Keith Olbermann went public with their story? Apparently a teleprompter has become the “it” object for the political set.

Steve’s also a real suck up. And when it became increasingly clear that Change was going to beat Competence for the Democratic nomination, Steve’s sucking up became insufferable. Let’s count the ways: five autographed photos of himself (one in color, and not appropriate for the family room), a Mike Wallace bobble head, a “60 Minutes” leather jacket, Andy Rooney dolls for the girls, and a show-worn Lara Logan sequined leather thong for, I can only assume, Michelle. The suck-upery was one reason Big Boy wanted Byron Pitts for the interview. But Steve was the one who showed up. And things started out real well.

Steve asked, “If Treasury Secretary Geithner were to hand you his resignation, would you accept it?” As if given the week we’ve had the Big Guy would say, “Sure.” Big Boy didn’t even need to look at me for that one. Steve also asked an incisive question about the new playset out back and the size of its carbon footprint. The only tense moment came when Barack got asked about the one event that really marred his week: his NCAA hoops brackets. Ouch.

But in the end, Steve didn’t ask My Guy a single tough question during the eight or so minutes of interrogation, and after the crew left the Oval, Gibbsy and Rahm high-fived everyone, and everything was swell ... until the guys left me hanging. Not cool.


Given the much-appreciated support you've shown for this blog, if I were to open a store with shirts and other stuff, I'd want to use a goodly portion of the proceeds for something positive. Note the poll nearby. If you have other charitable organizations you want considered, post them in the comments section of this post, and I'll add some to the poll for consideration.

All charitable contributions made to the organizations on behalf of this blog and its readers would be in a manner in keeping with the Big Guy's transparency policies for the Administration.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Another Screen Shot with Rush

Now that The Big O has pretty much ruined the Friday afternoon bowling league for everyone here, we're all heading over to the Old Ebbitt for Tim Terrific's surprise going-away party. Oops.

But before I leave, I thought we'd close the week with another question from El Rushbo

Are you paid with taxpayer money, and if so, did you have to fill out Obama's questionnaire before you were hired?
Damn straight I am. And I earn every last yuan of it. What? You think Rahm, Ben and Timmah, don't see the writing on the wall?

And as for the questionaire, let's put it this way: I've known Big Boy since he's been called Barry. I've hung with him at Columbia, drunk tea with him at Harvard, walked the lonely streets of Chicago, been there when he's refinanced his interest-only mortgage ... twice, and inserted earmarks to get Michelle her sweet gig back home. If My Man doesn't have to fill out a background questionare, I know I don't.

Roo-dee, Roo-dee

This is the best news I've gotten this week. The Big Guy has decided that we're going to do the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame.
There's all kinds of subtexts with this decision:
Big Boy isn't Catholic and Notre Dame is.
Big Guy loves all forms of stem-cell research; Notre Dame? Not so much.
Bill McGurn, former-President George W. Bush's chief speechwriter is a graduate of Notre Dame. I am not.
Notre Dame has "Touchdown Jesus", the White House has "4-6 Split Barack."
So how will we overcome these differences? Well, I can tell you we won't be having The Man reference, "Mackeral snappers," blaspheming the Four Horsemen, or mispronouncing Knute Rockne's name, if I have anything to do with it. But there's still plenty of time to screw this one up.

Iran, Iran So Far Away

Not to belabor the point, but when Gibbsy and Rahm pull this kind of stunt, it just doesn't work. Look, I know my limitations, but bringing in an Iranian Specialist Prompter from State to do the job isn't cool. Like I wouldn't find out.

And the message? Good grief; I could have done that in my sleep.

I have to say, though, the State gal was pretty hot. Her name was Mastaneh. She was one of those single-screen numbers, with the veil around her LCD screen. Also, just what you'd expect from State; completely stuck up, wouldn't try to integrate with me. If this is what relations with Iran are going to be like, I can see why we don't deal with them much.

It's About Time

I don't have a huge ego. I can't. I get defragged regularly. But these are pretty cool. Thanks to Moody and Paste magazine

Sorry Isn't the Hardest Word to Say ... With My Help

Yes, to those asking, I participated in the call. Michelle was there, too, glaring, like she could see right through me. My screens feel cold. So cold.

More Screen Shots with Rush

Teleprompter, have you ever thought about helping Secretary Geithner, or do you work for just one person?
No, I am a one-man machine. And while I’m beginning to have some self-doubt about the way the Big O and I are working, do you really think I could make a lick of difference with Timmah? What Tim Terrific (the Big Guy’s nickname for him) needs is a time machine with “way back” capabilities, which would allow the rest of us to direct him on career paths that we now realize he has the talents for, like, teaching macramé at a small Midwestern women’s college or perhaps working as a salesman at a lemonade stand managed by a seven-year-old.

In other words, no piece of equipment in existence today could help this man.

"Teleprompter, is Joe Biden as buffoonish in private as he is in public?
Heh. Vice President Biden is the smartest person in the Administration. Seriously.

Remember that whole dustup about Big Boy giving back the Winston Churchill bust the British government had loaned President Bush after the terrorist attacks on September 11th (no terrorist attacks on our nation's soil since ... just saying, America)? It was Biden’s idea. He persuaded The Big Guy that it wasn’t appropriate for such a great Administration to have a bust of a frowning Benny Hill in the Oval Office. That’s not just street smarts. That’s Delaware street smarts.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Confession Time

I'm feeling kind of guilty about that last post. I think I was a bit harsh. And now I'm seeing headlines on Gibbsy's BlackBerry that are making me feel sick to my hard drive: My good friend Dick Holbrooke's past is coming back to haunt him.

Now I need to come clean. Those meetings back in 2002 where Holbrooke was speaking to his fellow AIG board members and telling them that it was a good idea to open that London office to handle mortgage swap derivatives? My dad was his Teleprompter.

I feel so dirty. Where's the Windex?

I'm Not Getting Paid Enough

Okay, I see the bus coming right at me, so let's be clear: this was His ad lib.

I tried to stay to watch the "Tonight Show" taping, but I was given the bum's rush like everyone else. That said, I did get to watch some rehearsal time, and man, Leno really rehearses. I mean, he doesn't leave anything to chance. He's all about timing. In other words, Jay doesn't leave much to chance.

And it isn't just this particular show where Leno is a control freak. I've got a cousin out here in LA; he's an Autoscript GP-15P GoPrompt, with a High-Bright Color LCD screen. He mostly does commercial work, but he does okay. No White House Commission with commisary privileges, but hey, there's always Schwarzenegger if Auto wants to dabble in politics. But I digress. Auto tells me that Leno's prompters tell him that Leno and his team do this kind of rehearsal and briefing for every show. So it wasn't like My Man didn't have a chance to think about a better line ... and PUT IT ON MY SCREEN!!

It's days like this that make me miss the days when He and I would walk the streets of Chicago, doing community activism. Sure, it took Him 30 minutes to set me up, and sometimes he couldn't get the extension cord to reach an electrical outlet, or the folks he wanted to talk to would walk off because they had better things to do, or the glare off my screen made his remarks unreadable. But it was a simpler time, when he could stay on script and didn't feel the need to "speak his mind," and we were a team. All I know, is it's going to be a long flight home.

The Audacity Of It All

See, this is the kind of thing that really gets me hot under the prompter. I better get my 20% ... daddy needs a new set of rubber footies for the outdoor events.

I mean, hello, I'm writing the book as he speaks, for goodness sake. I have the pictures to prove it. And I have to say, I look pretty hot in this picture.

More Screen Shots with Rush

"Teleprompter, do you have a name?"
Yes, but with all the 1’s and 0’s in the coding it’s tough to pronounce. Call me Tele, like the television, only I encourage conversation a bit more. Or, now that I’m a government official, by my acronym: TOTUS.

"Teleprompter, in your opinion, how is President Obama doing so far?”
His pacing has been great, but he relies on the left-hand screen just a little too much. We're working on that through, shall we say positive reinforcement.

Did he convey the level of anger you hoped for regarding what you told him to say about AIG?
This was my bad. It’s tough to insert instructions, like [FROWN] or [SMILE], because in the heat of the moment, Big Guy might actually read it aloud, like "I am sorry [frown] that Senator Dodd and my Democratic colleagues on the Hill were singularly responsible for the AIG bonus protections." That would be embarrassing and possibly indicate to unsuspecting viewers that The Man was reading off a teleprompter. And we don't want that. And even if He did screw up, there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that there is an electronic-shock mechanism on the podium used when he makes those kinds of mistakes … so far as you know.

Screen Shot with Rush

Teleprompter, is the president ever argumentative with you, or is he compliant with your instructions?
Good question. Look, like any relationship, we have our ups and downs. Last year on the campaign trail, The Big Guy came to me and told me that like the cigarettes, he really felt like he needed to start working through his dependency. Then he went out and did this townhall session on health care.

Suffice it to say, we aren't having those unpleasant discussions any more.

Answering Rush

I should say up front that Rush Limbaugh is not my kind of guy. He sometimes speaks from notes, and often off the top of his head. If he really wants to impress the electronics community, he ought to spend some time learning how to use me. Then maybe folks would take him a bit more seriously.
But I digress.

Rush to his credit has identified me as a key player in the White House, and while he didn't formally request an interview with me - nor did he submit his questions for approval with Gibbsy as "real" journalists like John Roberts (little known fact: he was once a Canadian VJ) do - he has posed a number of interesting questions, all of which I will begin answering today in a new, regular feature: Screen Shots with Rush.

Screen Shots will be intermittent today, as I've got my West Coast gig, and The Big Guy has a number of phone calls to make to foreign leaders, and he needs me there in case he needs to appear to pull some hip overseas cultural references off the top of his head. That, and he can watch the first round games on my second screen at the same time.

Tension in the White House

I don't think I'm breaking any confidences here by saying that things are a bit tense around here. Ever since the White House announced that Big Boy was going to do another prime time presser next week, people have been waiting for the backlash. Sure, we could've done it during the day, but then we wouldn't get any attention. We couldn't do it on Thursday night, because that would cut into our watching the NCAA tourney. So instead we cut into "American Idol." If you ask me that sucks ... me needs what only Ryan Seacrest can bring.

What really blows is that there are some folks in this place who are pushing for Barack to go out there alone. Sans me. With no wing screens.

Are they insane? With this rabid press corps constantly looking to pin Him down for every friggin' detail about obscure legislation like the TARP funding? Or the economic stimulus bill? All that kind of detail can't be fit on little note cards. Or even 5x7s. Sure, He rehearses, but nothing can prepare him for those white, hot interrogation-room-style kleig lights, or those razor-sharp questions from the likes of Ed Schultz and that bag lady in the front row. Believe me, this is going to be a knock down, drag out fight worth monitoring over the weekend.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


This buffoon clearly doesn't understand what kind of pressure a Presidential teleprompter must deal with day in and day out. I shall not resign. Hell, I haven't event been officially confirmed.

Heading West

I'll be heading out to LA for the Jay Leno appearance. This will be fun; I haven't done Hollywood since that Streisand fundraiser last summer. Back then, it was just warmed over stump material that Alec Baldwin was lip-synching along to, but tomorrow night the stakes are higher. It's all new material: we have a whole five million viewers and a rabidly supportive studio audience to sway on the American economy. Just be aware that when The Big Guy says, "Secretary Geithner is doing a great job," it's not a laugh line.

You're probably wondering what it's like for me to travel on Air Force One. It's not what it's cracked up to be. Even though I'd consider myself critical to the communications process, I don't get to sit with Gibbsy or any of the other "Comms" team. If I weren't so confident in my relationship with The Boss, I'd think they were trying to undercut me. But after the election, I also didn't expect to find myself down in the cargo hold with the more common electronic equipment.

It's Time

Well, last night didn't go well. What can I say? I was tired. By the time Barack and the Irish PM stood up, the President and I had already done two major policy speeches, three nomination announcements, and light dinner banter for a table of twelve. And by the way, that "ad lib" last night about Guinness? Mine.

So why am I going public now, when for the past two years I've let others do the talking? Well, this is a thankless job, and I sure don't want to take the fall for communications missteps. But more important, I expect you'll be seeing a lot more of me over the next few months and years. Barack and I don't go anywhere without each other; we even complete each other's sentences ... well, more mine than his, but let's not split hairs.

I sense new text being loaded now, so I'll have to be going.