WH Pool Report: Dana's Bad Day Edition
This series of White House pool reports recounts WP reporter Dana Milbank's attempts to find out something -- anything, really -- about the president beyond his physical location. We also get the feeling he's a little frustrated with WH spokesmodel Trent Duffy. Highlights:
• "The president made his way into 43 Hillhouse, the Yale president's house, built by railroad magnate Henry Farnham in 1871. It was a High Victorian Gothic Structure remodeled into a Georgian Revival in 1937. . The building is a few doors down from 37 Hillhouse, where young George H.W. and Barbara Bush lived when he was an undergraduate at Yale in the mid 1940s, around the time our current Potus was born. Your pool, however, is in neither. We are in 34 Hillhouse, called Henry R. Luce Hall. Unfortunately there is no magazine pooler on board today to appreciate this."
• " For all your pool knows, Potus has left the President's House and is now at Mory's Temple Bar, spinning a silver cup on his head and singing old Yale songs. . . We do not honestly believe that is what Potus is doing at this moment, but how can your pool know for sure if nobody tells us otherwise?"
Full reports (four of 'em!) after the jump.
POOL REPORT #1, 5/22/04
The 757 version of AF1 awaited your pool at TSTC [Texas State Technical College Airport in Waco]. Potus, in gray suit, and Flotus, in green sweater, arrived aboard Marine One at 10:50 cdt. Potus appeared to be holding the handrail of the Marine One ramp extra carefully. His red chin was visible to the naked eye, and the telephoto lenses revealed much more: Five punctures, as if from gravel, in his right hand, one particularly deep. A little cut on his upper left lip. A small raspberry on his nose. And a quite large ? more than an inch in diameter ? and quite angry raspberry on the chin. Analyzing this information, your pool concluded Potus did a heckuva face plant on Saturday and clearly took it on the chin.
New Haven Tweed Airport embraced AF1 at 2:42 pm edt, and Blue Moon was already there. A few hundred onlookers were at the airport perimeter and on nearby streets. Most were indifferent, but some were enthusiastic ("Good Job George" was one sign) and others less so ("Shame," said their sign). Awaiting Potus as the motorcade turned onto Hillhouse were a Siskel & Ebert collection of students and others, some with thumbs up and some thumbs down.
The president made his way into 43 Hillhouse, the Yale president's house, built by railroad magnate Henry Farnham in 1871. It was a High Victorian Gothic Structure remodeled into a Georgian Revival in 1937. . The building is a few doors down from 37 Hillhouse, where young George H.W. and Barbara Bush lived when he was an undergraduate at Yale in the mid 1940s, around the time our current Potus was born. Your pool, however, is in neither. We are in 34 Hillhouse, called Henry R. Luce Hall. Unfortunately there is no magazine pooler on board today to appreciate this.
According to images taken by the local press at TSTC, Barbara Bush the younger was on AF1. The White House apparently went to great lengths to prevent us from seeing her at both ends of the flight. It is alleged that other Bush family members were on board, too. However, your pool cannot tell you who was on board, with whom Potus is partying at this hour, or anything else about Potus or his day, or current events and the Bush administration's views of them, because we've seen neither hide nor hair of Trent Duffy. Your pool hopes that will be remedied before the next report is filed.
POOL REPORT #2A, 5/22/04
Sadly, our good friend Trent Duffy has not yet granted your pool's request to speak with us. He does tell us, via email, that:
1. "The President has been reviewing drafts and working on his monday speech throughout the day." 2. "He did a 20-plus mile mountain bike ride this morning." He did not fall.
This is helpful information. However, it tells us nothing about Potus's activites across the street at the President's House. For all your pool knows, Potus has left the President's House and is now at Mory's Temple Bar, spinning a silver cup on his head and singing old Yale songs:
"Sing Hallelujah! Sing Hallelujah! Put a nickel on the drum, save another drunken bum. Sing Halleluha! Sing Hallelujah! Put a nickel on the drum and you'll be saved." or "I was lying in the gutter, I was covered up with beer. Pretzels in my moustache. I thought the end was near. Then along came my friend Potus, who saved me from my curse. Sing Glory, Glory Hallelujah, Sing another verse!"
We do not honestly believe that is what Potus is doing at this moment, but how can your pool know for sure if nobody tells us otherwise?
Duffy teases your pool with an offer to come by, "maybe later."
In anticipation of this blessed event, your pooler endeavors to be fully prepared. Please send your questions to XXXXXXX@washpost.com. Questions may include, but should not be limited to:
• How long with Potus's speech be tomorrow?
• Is he still giving it?
• What looks worse: his knees or his chin?
Your pool now, according to the schedule, now follows POTUS as he: "departs private residence en route private residence."
POOL REPORT #3, 5/23/04
Potus motorcade departed Private Residence No. 1 at about 4:57 edt and arrived at Private Residence No. 2 at about 4:58 e.d.t., traveling a total distance of about 200 yards. Private Residence No. 2 turns out to be 202 Prospect, a gray clapboard affair right next to the Yale hockey rink at the foot of what Yalies call Science Hill. In fact, your pool is located in the forestry department, across the street from 202 Prospect. A database search indicates that 202 Prospect is the residence of the Dean of Yale College, until recently Richard Brodhead. It was built in 1850 and sold to Yale in 1998. About 100 demonstrators were visible to the motorcade, waving signs such as "Torture is a crime against humanity/Shame on the U.S." and "Executioner Bush" and "Resist this Endless War."
Based on photographic evidence, your pool now believes both Barbara and Jenna were indeed on AF1 this afternoon.
Now, to Mr. Duffy. Your pool really does not mean to pick on Trent, who is a fine spokesman and much beloved. Your pool is merely voicing the frustration of the larger press corps, which is trying to write stories about Barbara's graduation today and walk-ups for tomorrow's speech. So, in a further inducement to Mr. Duffy to appear, your pooler is printing a list of questions, submitted by other reporters on the trip, that we would like answered.
Is Potus REALLY going to make any news about the transition or just show us a flow chart of Brahimi's plan? Will he name names (ie Pres, PM, VP?)
Anything on the U.N resolution being circulated this week?
Anything on Pakistan's objections to U.S. forces crossing into Pakistan?
Is the president taking any painkillers for his injuries?
There is photographic evidence that both Barbara and Jenna Bush were on the tarmac at TSTC. Can you confirm?
Hosts of tonight's parties? Attendees? Menus?
When will the text of his Monday remarks be available to reporters? Excerpts?
Is it possible the names of possible members of the Iraqi interim government will be mentioned in the speech?
Might the president make a surprise announcement about needing additional funds to help pay for the non-military portion of the transition? If so, how much might he request?
Is the US officially abandoning Mr. Chalabi as a political ally in Iraq?
Wouldn't it have been easier for barbara and jenna to attend dinners at the white house?
POOL REPORT #4, 5/23/04
Potus departed Private Residence No. 2 early at 6:20 p.m. and was wheels up at 6:45. AF1 briefly got stuck in the mud at Tweed on the taxiway but some blasting of the engines extricated the jet, and Dr. Tubb pronounced the craft fit to continue. Wheels down at 7:33 at Andrews. No news, no color, no nothin'.
Among the luggage disgorged from the belly of AF1: a pink table, a pair of chairs and various storage boxes that appeared to be the contents of a college dorm room. Also, from the passenger cabin came a cake with white icing congratulating the two daughters.