WH Pool Report: The President Never Did Get His Morning Papers Edition

the_flipperWashington Times reporter Joseph Curl steps in to fill the irony-drenched shoes of a departing Bob Kemper (we imagine they're big clown shoes) with this bitchy (we mean that in the best way possible) but informative White House pool report. Highlights:


    "Press Secretary Scott McClellan told the pool . . . [t]he president became aware of the allegations of abuse at the prison some time after the incidents occurred in late December/early January." [This is actual news, right?]

    A new acronym: TMPMITW=The Most Powerful Man In The World

    "The pool was hustled into place, not particularly close to the griddle, as Bush shed his suit coat. Bush took up a spatula and flipped several pancakes, tossing one a bit into the air. Could not see if it landed well. (It was unclear if he had to re-flip a pancake, which would make that a flip-flop. There were no waffles -- and no waffling -- in sight.)"

A Wonkette correspondent observed, "this guy should have a blog," but Curl probably deserves better than that.

Full report after the jump.

WH Pool Report Report: Milbank Goes Meta [Wonkette]

[Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

Pool Report #1-A

May 4, 2004

Troy, Michigan to Maumee, Ohio

One other scrap of news: Press Secretary Scott McClellan told the pool after we arrived at the pancake event that President Bush first became aware of the Taguba report and the photos of abused Iraqis at the Abu Ghraib prison from news reports. The president became aware of the allegations of abuse at the prison some time after the incidents occurred in late December/early January. The knowledge came after the allegations had worked its way into the higher echelons of the military hierarchy, McClellan said, but could not narrow the time frame.

***

The morning began in a panic. President Bush, who has repeatedly told print reporters that he does not read the paper -- especially their paper -- was waiting for the Detroit sheets. At just before 7 a.m., a White House staffer told the manager of the Somerset Inn on W. Big Beaver Road in downtown Troy, Michigan, who was not accustomed to having The Most Powerful Man In The World in the house, "He's waiting for the papers." The manager and front-desk staff said they could not imagine why, at such a late hour, the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News hadn't arrived. One speculated that both had gone to print late after holding for the end of the Red Wings game, which came after 1:30 a.m. Others nodded in agreement. Then one young, clear-thinking employee posited, "Maybe the guys couldn't get through security." It was, all agreed, a good theory and the manager took action. He walked out the front door and looked left, then right. Seeing only swept and sanitized sidewalks, he came back in. The president never did get his morning papers.

***

As your pool stood around in the parking lot of the Somerset Inn on W. Big Beaver Road, waiting for TMPMITW, Scott McClellan got an early-morning briefing about the news from yeoman Josh Deckard, who pointed out important passages as he handed the press secretary a ream of paper. McClellan later denied that he has risen to his post solely because of Deckard.

Before the president boarded his limo, two military choppers hovered overhead on the clear, cold morning. More than 40 motorcycle policemen had already been briefed by their CO and had taken up positions near the exit of the Somerset Inn on W. Big Beaver Road. Two Secret Service agents in black, wielding huge binoculars, scanned the sky for unpleasantness.

At 7:50 a.m. the motorcade pulled out, turning onto W. Big Beaver Road and merging onto the Metro Highway. A smattering of onlookers stood at gas stations or shut-down intersections, but no groups lined the road. At one point, a man held up a cell phone, presumably so the person on the other end could hear the motorcade.

The drive to the Selfridge Air National Guard Base (34 minutes) was nearly twice as long as the flight to Toledo (18 minutes). But the Secret Service agents had to scramble to get aboard Air Force One: They piled out of their black SUV and squatted on the tarmac to stuff their massive weapons back into their duffle bags.

The president was already waving from the top stair when the pool scampered to the back stairs. Wheels up 8:37. The morning meal was "Breakfast in a Bag" -- a ham 'n' cheese croissant, Tang in a shiny bag ("10 percent fruit juice!"), a bag o' grapes and a yellowish elongated fruit with some sort of elaborate peel that covers a tasty treat inside, all stuffed in a little white shopping bag emblazoned with the words: "Air Force One." AF1 flew at 25 mph at just 8,000 feet. Wheels down 8:55.

At 9:03, with Bush running almost 10 minutes late, the president came down the stairs, gave a single wave to the platform of photogs and cameramen and jumped into his limo, departing at 9:04. A few people stood on their driveways and waved. But closer to the event site, a couple hundred protesters lined the streets, most waving signs; some waving fists. Signs: "Bush Flip-Flops"; "Liar Liar Pants On Fire"; "Impeach Bush." The press bus drove by them on the way out. Arrived at the Lucas County Recreational Center at 9:18.

The pool was hustled into place, not particularly close to the griddle, as Bush shed his suit coat. Bush took up a spatula and flipped several pancakes, tossing one a bit into the air. Could not see if it landed well. (It was unclear if he had to re-flip a pancake, which would make that a flip-flop. There were no waffles -- and no waffling -- in sight.) Bush, handing off the spatula, made small talk with a few people from the pancake breakfast club, posed for a few pictures with some diminutive women, then moved over to the buffet line. He accepted a couple of sausage and a few pancakes onto his plate and, as he neared the pool, looked over. With a smile and a nod to his plate, he said: "Eat it today, wear it tomorrow." He then walked to a table as your pool was led away. Reporters near the rope could also see most of the goings-on at the griddle.

Joseph Curl

The Washington Times

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