22 Apr 2009

1 When presidents get invited to the annual Gridiron Dinner for a night of political skits among the Washington press corps, they always go. Not this one, who became the first sitting President politely to decline.

2 We have had lots of canine companions on the rugs of the Oval Office, but Obama's is the first first whose name, Bo, is also his master's initials. Better still, Portuguese water dogs come with fine Democrat credentials – Senator Ted Kennedy has litters of them

3 Americans have become accustomed to knowing that the so-called "enemy combatants" were being held at a safe distance – at Guantanamo Bay. But BO comes into office and instantly declares he will close it within a year.

4 Never mind the Bush policy of hostility to Iran, BO has been making tentative overtures, asking Tehran to cooperate on Afghanistan and edging towards face-to-face talks on its nuclear programme without preconditions.

5 In his first formal press conference, BO took a question from a correspondent of The Huffington Post, the political blog site. In this White House, old journalism must compete with new journalism.

6 As soon as the first cherry buds were bursting in Washington, Michelle Obama, accompanied by local school children, was breaking sod for the First Family's organic vegetable patch.

7 America is no longer shrugging its shoulders at the drug cartel violence shaking Mexico. BO and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged that the US is fueling the problem, supplying guns and consuming the drugs.

8 The Beast. The new first limousine – a Cadillac with more armour than your average tank and bullet-proof windows – has already prowled the streets of London, Strasbourg, Prague and Istanbul. And Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day.

9 Rush Limbaugh is the conservative blowhard on the radio who millions of Americans long ago learned to love or hate. But now his visibility, ratings and influence have soared. Some even tag him the unofficial head of the Republican opposition.

10 When Nato fed live footage of Barack and Michelle arriving for a dinner hosted by Angela Merkel into a packed press room, scores of normally cynical reporters rose to their feet to clap...CONTINUE

SOURCE: The Independent

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