Last fall, during Asif Ali Zardari's first foreign trip as head of state, the Pakistani president met with Sarah Palin in New York City. The meeting occurred amid Palin's other campaign cameos with U.S.-friendly world leaders, most of whom could manage little more than an awkward grimace amid the onslaught of flashbulbs. (Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo reportedly flat-out refused to meet her.) But Zardari, widower of Benazir Bhutto and oft-described playboy, looked delighted as he greeted--and then charmed--the vice-presidential candidate.
On the evening of January 22, a few hours after his administration's debut news conference, Barack Obama made a surprise visit to the cramped quarters of the White House press corps. It was meant to be a friendly event, and Obama glad-handed his way through reporters and cameramen, exchanging light banter as he went. But Politico reporter Jonathan Martin wasn't there to chat. Martin pressed Obama about the president's decision to nominate William J. Lynn III, a former defense lobbyist, to deputy defense secretary and about Obama's pledge to curtail the influence of lobbyists.
When President Obama introduced Kathleen Sebelius as his nominee to be Secretary of Health and Human Services a few moments ago, he also introduced Nancy-Ann Min DeParle as his new White House health care advisor. You're going to hear a lot of talk about how important Sebelius is to Obama's plans for comprehensive health care reform--and, undoubtedly, she'll play an important role, particularly if and when it comes time to implement a reform scheme. But when it comes to crafting a reform plan and then enacting it, DeParle's role is likely to be even more important.
Roland Burris is obviously going to put "U.S. Senator" on his mausoleum, but I can think of another entry that might belong there, as well: "Destroyer of the Illinois Democratic Party." Here's the dilemma Burris has created for his fellow Illinois Dems by refusing to resign. Burris not only denies the state's Democratic Governor Pat Quinn the power to appoint another Democrat to serve out the Senate term until a special election can be held in 2010; his continued presence in the Senate threatens to cast a cloud over those elections and hurt the Demcorats' chances in them.
US President Barack Obama waves alongside his wife, Michelle, and US Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, as former US President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, leave the US Capitol on the presidential helicopter after Obama was sworn in as the 44th US president in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2009. (Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images) --Michael Crowley
Julia Ioffe is a writer living in New York. Earlier this week, David Frum and his wife, Danielle Crittenden, invited some of their (conservative) friends to fete the inauguration of a man they didn’t vote for. “We’re going to watch and have a few drinks--well, maybe more than a few--and discuss how we’re going to deal with this,” Frum, a fellow at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, told me. He sounded chipper, almost wondrous at how the conservatives had gotten to this point.
Berkley Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, announced tonight that it was canceling Herman Rosenblat's Holocaust memoir, Angel at the Fence: The True Story of a Love That Survived, which was set to be published on February 3.
Andrew Stuttaford links to a Guardian story about a young boy in New Jersey named Adolf Hitler Campbell. He ran into trouble -- probably not, alas, for the last time -- when he parents requested a cake for Adolf's third birthday: Heath Campbell, 35, and his wife, Deborah, 25, say they are upset at the decision made by their local ShopRite not to write "Happy Birthday Adolf Hitler" across the cake, and that people needed to move forward. The Campbells did find a supermarket willing to make the Hitler cake -- Walmart, naturally. --Jonathan Chait
The WP is almost-reporting that Obama will likely choose Ken Salazar as his Secretary of the Interior, and the Rocky Mountain News is calling it "a done deal." In some ways, the appointment would be a very smart political move: Salazar (whom I almost worked for long ago) can act as Obama's sherpa on the water, agriculture, and land-use issues that Democrats need to master if they want to build on their majorities in the Mountain West.
A few weeks ago, a friend who works at a major hospital mentioned that a different kind of patient was increasingly showing up at the emergency room. In addition to the uninsured and underinsured, who'd always been coming, he was seeing more patients who might be best described as "pre-uninsured"--that is, people who were about to lose their jobs and, as a result, their insurance coverage.