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Posts Tagged ‘Jim Gerstenzang’

This Week In Pool Reports

Does The White House need some new joke writers? What will they do when the pending nuptials are over?

  • “No news, some color in transcripts for those who care for such trifles. The president’s first stop of the evening was the NRCC fundraising dinner at the Washington Hilton. About 2,000 loyal Republicans were present in business attire. The NRCC reported raising $8.6 million at their ‘Earning Back the Majority’ event. The president started speaking during the salad course. He said the first lady was busy with wedding planning and as such, he appreciated the NRCC invite. He said next year the group’s keynote would be ‘President McCain,’ and that he, Bush, would be ‘watching it all on TV in Crawford.’ For himself, the president said, ‘I intend to finish strong, with my head held high.’ (pooler: just like Amy Winehouse!)” — Julie Mason, Houston Chronicle

  • Next stop: Kuwait-America Foundation’s Stand for Africa gala dinner, at the residence of the ambassador of Kuwait. Pool was hustled to a holding room upstairs to watch the president’s remarks on what we assume was closed-circuit TV. He apologized for being late — explaining that Mrs. Bush was making him watch ‘Father of the Bride.’ He made very brief remarks on Africa and malaria, then said he wanted to get back home and finish the movie. Unclear if he meant the original version with Spencer Tracy, or the more contemporary, and to your pooler’s thinking, inferior version with Steve Martin.” — Mason

  • Quick motorcade to Reagan building for the president’s speech to the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. It should be noted there were quite a few empty seats. Preliminaries: He rolled his Rs, he threw out some Spanish — then said some say he needs to practice his English. He introduced a retinue of Cabinet members and said, ‘This is not a Cabinet meeting.’ There was a joke about the wedding — ‘la boda.’ … Why am I telling you this if the event was open press? Because your pool took attendance. How much things have changed.” — Mason

  • “Not one iota of news. A teensy bit of color.” — Sheryl Stolberg, New York Times

  • “The president’s reaction to Spitzer, according to Perino: ‘a sad situation.’ She said Bush would have no further comment on the case.” — Jim Gerstenzang, Los Angeles Times

  • “You have the transcript of VPOTUS remarks. Hard to believe, I know, but he used the almost joke again. Never saw that one coming. There was also a Saxby Chambliss hunting line.” — John D. McKinnon, The Wall Street Journal

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    This Week In Pool Reports

    It was another week on the road for the pool with Bush, his “black Croc-like clogs”, peacocks and some technical snafus.

  • “Six hours into the flight, Dana said Bush had been briefed by Rice and Bolten about an incident at the U.S. embassy in Belgrade. She said that at about 5 p.m. EST embassy was attacked by thugs who breached our consular section, setting a fire. She said the embassy staff was secure, safe and accounted for. You should have long ago received the transcript of the pool visit with the president and Mrs. Bush. Just a bit of color: We met with them in the conference room. He was wearing the blue Air Force One jacket, blue warm-up pants, no socks, and black Croc-like clogs. (Were they Crocs? Were they knockoffs? We dont know). She was in the white suit with red beads that she had been wearing earlier in the day. He showed no sign of being overly worn out by the trip, although, as you see in the transcript, he indicated he had a nap in mind.” — Jim Gerstenzang, Los Angeles Times

  • “The Liberian minister of protocol then stood and talked for several more minutes about POTUS, reciting his career going all the way back to, you guessed it, childhood, mentioning his interests in baseball, nature, and other things. He also said that POTUS has ‘played a pivotal role in bringing peace and stability to Liberia.’ At this point I saw one audience member sleeping, and maybe another. The one that was definitely sleeping was woken by the horn blowing, and clapped twice very slowly after an applause line.” — Jon Ward, Washington Times

  • “Jon Ward called in to deliver a brief pool report; he’s got no internet and couldn’t transmit. Everything the wires have from Dana on Air Force One is correct, re Musharraf call, and he confirms it.” — Sheryl Stolberg, New York Times

  • “The one real twist — the promised christening of the new ‘George Bush Motorway.’ Details follow: POTUS left the hotel at 7:20 p.m. in a motorcade that seemed, if possible, even longer than usual, snaking through town past the shanites where people in simple clothing stood and watched, eventually arriving at the dinner a full eight minutes later. The State Banquet Hall was festooned with green, yellow and red bunting as well as large streamers that looked to be gold lame. An African band played dinner jazz as POTUS and FLOTUS entered the hall with President Kufuor and his wife. … The lengthy toasts foreshadowed the inevitable. POTUS did not make it out by the scheduled 9:05 p.m. departure. He finally managed to slip out at 9:40, boarded the motorcade and returned to the hotel for bed at 9:50 p.m. And that’s it for us. See you in Monrovia.” — Peter Baker, The Washington Post

  • “The motorcade rolled from the press availability to the U.S. embassy, where POTUS and FLOTUS and Condi took part in a greeting for staff on a covered porch. As you know by now, the 2007 American Idol winner, Jordin Sparks, did a soulful, stirring rendition of the national anthem. POTUS then recounted the Idol Gives Back campaign from last year, and urged generous support for this year’s.” — John McKinnon, Wall Street Journal

  • “The next and final event was a T ball game supporting a foothold that baseball fans are trying to establish in Ghana, which is soccer mad but reportedly doesn’t take much interest in cricket, despite its British colonial background. It was sponsored by the Ghana Little League, with equipment donated by Major League Baseball. Two teams of 7- to 9-year-olds took part. One — the Little Dragons — is made up of young kids from the Beacon House Orphanage. The other — the Little Saints — is made up of kids from less advantaged homes. Your pool is no expert on T ball but was impressed with one kid who hit the ball over your pool’s head and out of the park.” — McKinnon

  • “To answer the only question presented so far about the morning: the screeching you may have heard from the press conference apparently came from peacocks.” — Gerstenzang

  • “The whole thing took eight minutes. Biggest excitement was when the limo, back up limo and Secret Service four-by-four momentarily blocked the view of the press corps at the outset of the ceremony, prompting wild gesticulations from the advance staff before the drivers figured it out and pulled out of the way.” — Stolberg

  • Ben Feller made a valiant effort to get POTUS reaction to the news that Castro is stepping down, calling out a question during the 20 seconds or so we were brought into the top of the bilat. POTUS did not answer or even look in Ben’s direction. We’re assuming Ben will be left behind to find his own way home from Kigali. Sorry, Ben.” — Baker

  • This Week In Pool Reports

    Protesters must be getting tired of Bush. It’s like they are not even trying to come up with new signs. It may as well be 2003. And the motorcade makes a questionable rush hour schedule.

  • “While on board, Carlton came back to tell us the decision was made to land the plane at Hagerstown. Fratto later explained that the president had been scheduled to helicopter from Andrews to Camp David, but those plans were cancelled because of the bad weather. It was decided it would be less disruptive to drop the president off in Hagerstown than to motorcade around the Beltway and up I-70 during rush hour in inclement weather, Fratto said. So your pool was in the unusual position of flying aboard the presidential aircraft for a brief time without the president.” — Michael Abramowitz, Washington Post

  • “The pool waited for the president inside Kaleidoscope, an arts and crafts center inside the building that the company makes available to schools. The center is brightly decorated with Disney-like tables in the shapes of flowers, animals and the like. Dozens of kindergarten kids from Horizon Elementary School in Shawnee, Kan., with teachers and helpers, created a cacophony. They wandered around or worked at stations, making puzzles, bags, cards in a sort of free-for-all taking place just above knee level.” — Steven Lee Myers, New York Times

  • “Most barely noticed the president’s arrival, being of the age when markers and scissors and papers merit far greater interest than politics or the president. Several kids, though, made their way to meet him, shaking his hands before returning to their projects. The president glad-handed his way through the crowds, posing with a couple of boys at one point and evidently enjoying himself. Much of the chatting happened out of the pool’s earshot, though the pool heard him ask one girl, ‘Are you having fun here?’ and then answer for her, ‘It’s exciting here.’” — Myers

  • “The president departed the event site at 10:22 a.m., passed about two-dozen protesters (sign: Bush Lied) as the motorcade pulled onto the main street, and arrived at the Tournament Hills gated community at 10:26.” — Jim Gerstenzang, Los Angeles Times

  • “After greeting the crowd and praising Charlotte as a free-market example for America, Cheney spent the first part of his address discussing the economic stimulus package and the state of the economy. The basic message: things are not as bad as they might seem, but nonetheless a short-term boost is needed to avoid long term problems.” — Dan Eggen, Washington Post

  • This Week In Pool Reports

    Dubai is fancy fancy. POTUS gets his groove on and do you know what goat brain tastes like? Ask Mark Silva.

  • “Bush greeted, shook hands and posed for pictures with workers throughout the facility, and used ‘hola’ to greet the numerous Hispanic workers. At the conclusion of the tour, Bush delivered his remarks on the need for an economic stimulus package, and admiring the ‘Stander,’ asked Wright to ‘crank this sucker up.’ After receiving a demonstration from Wright, Bush took the reigns, going forwards and backwards on the ‘Stander’ while waving to the press corps. Bush called it a ‘fine looking machine.’” — Andy Leonatti, CongressDaily.

  • “Air force one took off at 2:29 after a fairly sluggish motorcade made its way past the Egyptian security guards staring out at the desert, the mountains and the sea. The security guards tried to stop our back part of the convoy at the airport, but only for a moment. No gaggle. In fact, no anything, except cheeseburger and fries, followed by lasagne, with a couple of movies in between.” — Daniel Dombey, Financial Times

  • “While a crush of about 40 mostly local photographers held a scrum on a stairway, a voice from the top of the stairs called out, ‘I would like to answer your questions! Any questions? Too late.’ And with that, POTUS turned around and disappeared into his meeting.” — Richard Wolf, USA Today

  • “The president wore a full-length robe, which was black, with bluish-silver trim, and he seemed eminently pleased. Only later, when he sat beside the king and took it off, did it become clear that the robe was lined with fur. A Saudi said that the robe is called a farw — the pool looked up the spelling. Ambassador Fraker, Bolton, Gillespie, Perino and Elliot Abams followed in their own robes, or fara. Abrams, when asked by Newsweek, said he was allowed to keep it, suggesting these were gifts for all. A few minutes after the main group, Rice arrived, fresh from Baghdad and wearing no robe.” — Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times

  • “Al Jandriyah Farm might have conjured images of the dusty scrub of Crawford, for those who have been there, or even horse country in Kentucky, but in fact it is a 2,000-acre of oasis in the desert, reminding the pool more of a golf resort than anything like last night’s desert encampment outside Abu Dhabi.” — Myers

  • Trainers lead out four of the king’s horses, which mostly just posed; they were very nice looking animals. Among them was Alysheba, the winner of the Kentucky Derby in 1987 (in a time of 2:03 2/5, for those who follow these matters). The horse, now 24, was said to be the king’s prized champion, and is a now a retired stud. Apparently his first owner was a Texan, but that requires further research. A foreign trainer there, whose name unfortunately the pool didn’t have time to get as the pool was rushed to the motorcade, said that Alysheba won $6.5 million ‘back when money was money,’ making the pool wonder what was considered money now, if not that.” — Myers

  • “Your pool caught up with the president at an arrival ceremony at the palace/museum open-air entrance area, as the program was already underway. With drums beating and performers chanting, he held a sword over his right shoulder, and swayed arm-in-arm to the music with his host, identified as Prince Salman, the governor of Riyadh. He seemed to get into the dance, leaning further to the right and then left and slightly dipping his shoulders as he shifted his balance. He displayed a sheepish grin. He was wearing a blue suit; no overcoat.” — Jim Gerstenzang, Los Angeles Times

  • “Each was asked to introduce himself and his/her company before speaking. The president went first and said: ‘I’m George W. Bush. I’m the president of the United States.’” — Gerstenzang

  • “The motorcade rolled from the cultural center in Dubai at 12:50 pm local and rolled out along Dubai Creek, with its relatively low high-rises, and then on through downtown, with its relatively high high-rises. What will be the world’s tallest building is only one among many with cranes atop them in a city that appears intent on building an instant high-rise skyscape. Dramatic curves and points and odd balancing acts seem to drive the edgy architecture. We headed to the legendary hotel, the Burj el Arab, and on the way we passed Ski Dubai, the indoor ski slope which contains five slopes and looks, from the outside, like an overblown air mattress. It’s supposed to be freezing cold in there. It’s warm and balmy out here. At the Burj el Arab, a white, tall, sail-like building on the beach, actually built out on a jetty jutting into the water, we marveled at the lofty helipad at the top where some tennis stars have played for a promotional event.” — Mark Silva, Chicago Tribune

  • “There was goat brain on the buffet in the pool hold in Dubai today. I cannot report what it tastes like.” — Silva

  • “The drizzle had ended by the dance’s end, and then four robed men came out with hunting falcons on their arms — fabulous big birds of light brown tones with dark markings, and they approached Bush, who briefly took a bird on his arm and handed it back. ‘Beautiful birds,’ Bush said. With this, we were led out and motorcaded to the cultural center past the famous Dubai creek, which was not active on this national holiday — declared so for the Bush visit. Your pooler dubbed it Freedom Day.” — Silva

  • This Week In Pool Reports

    It seems sometimes, there really is nothing exciting to report from the pool, except when POTUS and a Prime Minister dress alike.

  • “You might think that being leader of the free world means never having to sit in traffic but you would be wrong. A short construction-related traffic delay on New York Avenue briefly slowed what was an otherwise uneventful trip to the Secret Service training facility in Beltsville, for what we’re told was some bike riding by President George W. Bush.” — Craig Gordon, Newsday

  • “Unfortunately, your pooler has nothing terribly interesting to report. The room had been well prepared for a brief, 30-second tour by a group of reporters. A text display near the ceiling had been set to read ‘unclassified.’ The huge video monitors displayed the public Web sites of the NSA, DHS and other agencies. Digital clocks showed time for Hawaii, Colorado, Texas, Georgia, Kabul, Zulu, Local and…I can’t read my notes for the last one. It might have said Baghdad. Cameras were allowed in, but, for some reason, no sound recording equipment.” — Sean Musseden, Media General News Service

  • “Standard drill: President in arm chair; PM to his right in similar arm char. Both in dark blue/gray suits; white shirts, nearly identical blue ties.” — Jim Gerstenzang, Los Angeles Times

  • “During flight, the VP, sometimes aka senior administration official, completely missed an oportunity to yuk it up with the pool, But we did eat light salads — avocado, ham, turkey and blue cheese chunks served on a bed of lettuce with hard-boiled egg slices — and garlic rolls en route.” — Mark Silva, Chicago Tribune

  • This Week In Pool Reports

    Don’t age Pres. Bush. He does not appreciate it. He did however dis Tony Snow’s band and dodge a question about a GOP dissenter. Oh, and Ed Buckley is a Debbie Downer.

  • “Also, as POTUS was shaking hands in the room after the speech, someone from the back of the room yelled out ‘Happy Birthday, Mr. President!’ To which he replied: ‘Not yet!’ and said something about being 61.” — Sheryl Stolberg, New York Times

  • “A game attempt at a question–What do you think of Bloomberg?–was turned aside by the president, who said it was a fine news organization.” — Jim Gerstenzang, Los Angeles Times

  • Tony Snow’s band, Beats Workin’, played a memorable set. Selections included classic hits ‘Johnny B. Good,’ ‘Reelin’ in the Years’ and ‘China Grove.’ Tony played a spirited flute solo in a number your pooler did not recognized (but was informed was Jethro Tull) The spokesman really put his knees into it, grooving and swaying as he played. Sitting in with the band was Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter, a veteran guitarist of both Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers. He said Snow has a place with him if he tires of the press.” — Julie Mason, Houston Chronicle

  • “Bush, in his very brief remarks, referred to this entertainment as a ‘bunch of mediocre musicians’ before correcting himself and offering praise. See transcript.” — Mason

  • Ed Buckley, apparently unaware it was a barbecue, stalked around the lawn all evening in a dark blue suit, clutching a binder.” — Mason

  • This Week In Pool Reports

    In this week’s episode, FLOTUS makes a fashion faux pas, President Bush gets to live out his childhood dreams and it seems there is room for romance in the White House.

  • “Important wardrobe note: FLOTUS was wearing a torrid red outfit, to frontrun tomorrow’s wear-red day to fight heart disease. Kind of a waffle-texture fabric.” — John McKinnon, Wall Street Journal and Matt Stearns, McClatchy Newspapers

  • “POTUS garnered big laughs from the audience when, apparently in need of coffee at the early hour, stood from his seat, walked to his right to Gen. Pace‘s seat, grabbed a silver coffee urn from in front of Pace and brought it back to his seat to fill his cup. POTUS then returned to Pace’s seat with urn and poured Pace a cup. Pace stood and shook POTUS’s hand in exaggerated and humorous gratitude.” — McKinnon and Stearns

  • “The main event: At the end of the tour, the president climbed aboard a tractor, similar to those you saw at the speech site, told the pool ‘I would suggest moving back. I’m about to crank this sucker up,’ and with that he did. He moved it forward about 20 feet, then backed it into a turn, and straightened it out. When done, he stepped out of the cab, said, ‘oh, yeah,’ and responded with a sheepish grin, and a shrug of his shoulders as though saying ‘what did you expect,’ when a pooler shouted ‘we thought you were kidding.’ In short, the tractor drive, a dream come true for any American male, brought out the inner boy in the president.” — Jim Gerstenzang, Los Angeles Times

  • “POTUS, FLOTUS and other administration officials attended a farewell party at Blair House for outgoing White House Counsel Harriet Miers. At 4 pm, POTUS and FLOTUS walked across Pa. Ave hand-in-hand, smiling and waving.” — Kenneth Bazinet, Daily News