Waiting for Greg Packer

A mostly political weblog.
Jan. 18 2009 5:18 PM

Waiting for Greg Packer

  Monday, January 19, 2009

Warning (from Politico 's Josh Gerstein) 'Be Alert. Be Very Alert': From a January 21, 2001 AP story, "Settling into White House, Bush welcomes the public"--

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The president and Mrs. Bush stood at the door of the Grand Foyer to greet some of the 3,000 tourists lucky enough to snag a ticket for the afternoon tour. "I just want to remind everybody that this is not our house," Bush said.

"It is the people's house and one of the grand traditions in the White House is to share the people's house with people from all over the country."

The estimated 300 people greeted by the first couple during about an hour of handshaking had obtained their tickets in advance through the inauguration committee and were first in line. The president and first lady had gone by the time the people who got their tour tickets on a first-come, first-serve basis reached the door.

"I'm disappointed, but obviously he can't greet everybody," said Greg Packer of Huntington, N.Y., who camped out for 12 hours to be first in line when Park Service personnel started handing out tour tickets at 7:30 a.m. Sunday . [E.A.]

You know he's out there. ... It doesn't matter if there are 2 million people in Washington for the Inauguration. Greg Packer, the "entire media's designated 'man on the street' for all articles ever written," will not not be quoted. ... You cannot deny him. You can only hope to contain him. ... 2:08 P.M.

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" Obama on the Auto Bailout: From the 1/15 Washington Post interview--

Reporter: Sir, you have a tough call coming up on the auto industry ..

Obama: Yes

Reporter: ... and I would like to ask you a little bit about how that's developing. In particular, some members of the party, as you know, feel that it is unfair to require as part of this TARP loan that UAW equalize its wages with the nonunion plants in the South. I would like to ask your view on that particular point. More broadly, how far you think we're going to have to go and how much money we're going to have to spend to rescue this industry or whether you have in your own mind some sense of an end point where it is sort of beyond salvation.

Obama: You know, I'm not yet enough of an expert on the auto industry to give you a detailed answer. We have-- Larry Summers has put together a working group to focus on autos in anticipation that they are going to be coming back with either a plan for sustainability or not. But either way we're going to have to make some decisions.

So I'm awaiting that report back from them. What I can say in terms of my general views--and this predates the current crisis-- is that we have to build a sustainable business model for these guys or they have to build it.

And I don't think an acceptable outcome is for us to just keep them on their lifeline through taxpayer dollars in perpetuity.  So there is going to have to be a restructuring, and that restructuing is going to have to involve everybody from labor to management to creditors to shareholder, giving something up. ... [E.A.]

Obama goes on to say that the business model "has to anticipate" rising gas prices. ... Anti-UAW reading : He didn't agree with the 'no-equalization" position. He says everyone has to give something up. He says he doesn't want a subsidy "in perpetuity." How can they come up with a "sustainable" business model if they don't match Toyota on wage costs? ... Pro-UAW reading: He didn't disagree. More important, he didn't say he wouldn't support another round of subsidies, as long as they weren't open-ended. (A date certain for withdrawal! The auto bailout sounds more like Iraq every week.)  ... kf reading: Another punt (similar to his card check punt ).  Obama injects some pressure, but not the long-awaited fear of God, into the current Detroit-UAW negotiations. ... 1:57 A.M.

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One of Henry Kissinger's problems at parties, I'm told, was that people used to come up to him and try to tell him personally how angry they were about his conduct of the Vietnam War. I would imagine that George Lucas, who's been seen at various inauguration parties,** has a similar problem. People are probably more scared of telling off Lucas, though. ...

**--Including at Maureen Dowd's remarkable party, where you had to elbow past Tom Brokaw to get to somebody famous. ...  1:22 A.M.

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After four D.C. parties I'm in such a state of Washington/Hollywood disorientation that when I saw a handsome lantern-jawed man coming down the stairs, surrounded by fawning admirers, I couldn't figure out if it was Matthew Perry or Joe Scarborough. ... I'm still not completely sure. ...  1:10 A.M.

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