POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 1/21

Change Comes to the Oval Office

photo of President Obama in the Oval Office this morning is especially interesting because it’s clear he’s instituted a new dress code: The new president is not wearing a suit jacket. 

It was a rule during the Bush administration that no one ever enter the Oval Office without a jacket.

Goodbye Bush

David Remnick: “The mood at the Inauguration was so joyful, so filled with unalloyed expectation and — there’s that word again — hope, that it seems almost peevish (and historically repetitive) to sound a sour note, but here it unavoidably is: the hostility among some in the vast crowd toward the departing President was, at times, palpable… Joy was the order of the day. But when George Bush walked out of the Capitol building and down the steps to take his seat you could hear the mocking, rising chant that is usually voiced whenever a visiting pitcher has been bombed and he sulks off to the dugout: Nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah, hey hey, Goodbye! It was hardly a thunderous chant, but it was part of the inaugural, historical soundtrack, no less than Kanye West and Beyoncé.”

Bennet to Take Seat Tomorrow

CQ Politics reports Senate Democrats would like to swear in Michael Bennet (D) on Thursday to replace Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO), who was confirmed yesterday as Interior secretary. 

Bennet will be the first senator sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden.

Obama Enters Oval Office

The White House released this statement:

“At 8:35 AM, the President arrived in the Oval Office and spent 10 minutes alone in the office. He read the note left to him by President Bush that was in an envelope marked ‘To: #44, From: #43’. At 8:45 AM, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel came in to discuss the schedule of today’s events. The First Lady came into the Oval Office at 9:10 AM. We will release a picture shortly.”

First Press Briefing Pushed Back

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs is not holding a briefing today, the New York Times reports, “deciding to delay his first official briefing until Thursday. Why? Most members of his staff have been waiting outside to be allowed onto the White House grounds.”

In addition, the Washington Post notes that “more than a few members of the 4th Estate were turned away by Secret Service agents because their names were mysteriously absent from a computerized access list.”

Optimism Soars with Obama Taking Power

A new AP-Knowledge Networks poll shows that by a 3-1 margin, the American people feel more optimistic about the country’s future now that Barack Obama has been inaugurated president.

Paterson Knows His Pick

New York Gov. David Paterson (D) said “he has finally zeroed in on a candidate to replace Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate — but wants to mull it over a few more days,” the New York Daily News reports.

Said Paterson: “I thought that with something this serious — that when I came to a point of view — that I wouldn’t react to it immediately. I thought I would see if it feels the same way [tomorrow] … as it did, I guess toward the end of [Monday] afternoon when I think I started to come to a point of view.”

“Sources close to Paterson say they believe Caroline Kennedy is still the front-runner — despite the fact the governor has recently been talking up Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

On Bush’s Plane

Mark McKinnon was on former President Bush’s plane back to Texas yesterday and filed a report and photos for the Daily Beast.

“And while I’m reluctant to quote the president directly from private conversations, I think I can fairly report that he feels a genuine warmth for President Obama. He admires his sense of family, his relaxed and easygoing nature, and his character. He has gotten to know him during this transition period and he has a pretty good gut for people. His gut tells him Obama has what it takes to be a successful leader. Not yet tested. Not yet proved he is willing to make difficult and unpopular decisions. But the potential is clearly there.”

Kaine Takes Over DNC

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) will be elected as the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee at 1:00 pm ET in Washington, D.C.

However, there’s still no word on what the snubbed outgoing chairman Howard Dean will do next.

Day One

President Obama will attend a prayer service this morning, the Wall Street Journalreports, in a tradition that dates back to George Washington.

When Obama returns to the White House, he will sign several executive orders, including one that bans any White House staffer from lobbying the Obama White House in the future. In one of his first acts as president, Obama also ordered a 120 day halt to prosecuting prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

Obama will also meet with his economic and national security teams. As promised during the campaign, it’s expected he will issue orders today to begin the process of pulling troops from Iraq within the next 16 months.

Mike Allen: “The president has long planned to make today a HEAVY NEWS DAY, with executive orders, ‘next steps’ session with his war council, including General Petraeus, and a ‘what now?’ meeting with financial advisers. We’re told Obama will put a dramatic stamp over the government over the next WEEK to 10 DAYS, with plans for a series of executive actions and orders.”

Front Page News

The Newseum displays more than 700 newspaper front pages from all over the world covering Barack Obama’s inauguration.

A Weakened Opposition

The Wall Street Journal looks at how Republicans will organize themselves as an opposition party.

“With likely minorities of 41-59 in the Senate and 178-257 in the House, Republicans — who just four years ago seemed on the cusp of long-term dominance — have less leverage than any minority in recent memory.”

Furthermore, Republicans’ internal divisions “have been exacerbated by fights over the weakened party’s future.”

Experts Say Obama Should Retake Oath

Several constitutional lawyers said President Obama “should, just to be safe, retake the oath of office that was flubbed by Chief Justice John Roberts,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Two previous presidents, Calvin Coolidge and Chester Arthur, retook their oaths of office under similar circumstances.

Update: In an interview with ABC News, Obama explained what happened: “We’re up there, we’ve got a lot of stuff on our mind, and he actually, I think, helped me out on a couple of stanzas there.  So over all, I think it went relatively smoothly, and I’m very grateful to him.”

Obama Will Release Weekly Videos

CNN reports that President Obama will release a weekly video address to the nation — instead of the traditional radio address. It’s also expected he may use the opportunity to “break news” in the reports as he did occasionally during the transition.

The Difficulty of Mocking Obama

Kill the MessengerWhile promoting his new DVD, Kill the Messenger, comedian Chris Rock told CNN it’s just too hard to make fun of President Obama.

Said Rock: “He’s just one of those guys, you know, like Will Smith. There’s no Will Smith jokes. There’s no Brad Pitt jokes. You know, what are you going to say? ‘Ooh, you used to have sex with Jennifer Anniston. Now you have sex with Angelina Jolie. You’re such a loser.’ What do you say? ‘Ooh, your movies are big. You make $20 million.’ There’s nothing to say about Brad Pitt.”

“It’s like ‘Ooh, you’re young and virile and you’ve got a beautiful wife and kids. You’re the first African-American president.’ You know, what do you say?”

Bush Defends Presidency Again

In light of President Obama’s Inaugural Address today — “and the new president’s stark repudiation of what his predecessor left behind” — the New York Times says former President Bush’s speech upon arriving home in Texas “almost seemed like a rebuttal.”

Said Bush: “There were some good days and there were some tough days but every day was an honor to be your president. I gave it my all. Listen. Sometimes what I did wasn’t popular, but that’s okay, I always did what I thought was right.”

He added: “History will be the judge of my decisions, but when I walked out of the Oval Office this morning, I left with the same values that I took to Washington eight years ago. And when I get home tonight and look in the mirror, I’m not going to regret what I see — except maybe some gray hair.”

Seven Obama Nominees Approved

“Hours after he was sworn in as president, Barack Obama’s administration has taken shape, as the Senate quickly approved seven of the new president’s nominees for top-level positions,” Politico reports.

“By voice vote, the Senate approved Steven Chu as Energy secretary, Arne Duncan as Education secretary, Janet Napolitano as Homeland Security secretary, Peter Orzag as head of the Office of Management and Budget and Tom Vilsack as secretary of Agriculture.”

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