On the Prowl
With the triumphant declaration, “The bear is loose,” President Obama recently has twice escaped the White House bubble and strolled off campus. First, it was a leisurely walk along the Ellipse to the Interior Department on May 21. This week, it was Monday’s hike up Pennsylvania Avenue to a Starbucks. But on both occasions, the liberated president made it clear he wants some people to stay in their cage — the reporters who cover him. Both times, Obama showed clear pique that those pesky reporters were ruining his jaunts. All recent presidents have allowed at least one print reporter close enough to monitor their interactions. But this president doesn’t like that precedent. “C’mon, guys,” he complained to reporters en route to Interior. “You’re not going to follow me the whole way?” Only the official White House photographer and a government videographer stayed close. On Monday, the White House broke from the long-accepted norm and did not alert the protective press pool in time for reporters to accompany the president. When they caught up, Obama complained to his aides, ordering them to herd the press away. The White House Correspondents’ Association has since protested. But insiders are decidedly bearish about the chances of restoring the traditional coverage rules.
George E. Condon Jr.
An Unfamiliar Spot
The Jeb Bush 2016 boomlet suddenly has taken a new twist — Jeb for veep. The former Florida governor has kept rigorously quiet about his options. Even brother George remains in the dark about his sibling’s leanings. But the big-time opposition of Jeb’s wife, Columba, to a presidential run leads many Republican elders to assume he won’t be a candidate. That’s why some of these same GOP leaders have begun touting Jeb as the natural choice for the second spot. “He’s the perfect No. 2 for any Republican ticket,” a top GOP consultant told National Journal. “It makes a world of sense.” Bush is an unabashed conservative, the theory goes, but a kinder, gentler version who can appeal to mainstream Republicans, conservative Democrats, and independents. He would even pass muster with conservative red-hots who think he’s too establishment, especially because he speaks fluent Spanish and is popular with Hispanic voters otherwise turned off by the GOP’s hard line on immigration reform. And if Jeb has to campaign for only three months as a VP nominee, instead of more than two years as a presidential candidate, a senior Bush family source predicts his wife would sign off.
He’s Back Sen. John Boozman, the Arkansas Republican who’s been out of commission since undergoing heart surgery in April, returned to the Capitol this week. “I’m feeling good,” he said. “It’s kind of sad — people saying I look better now than before I left.” Boozman, who is serving his first term since defeating Blanche Lincoln, said his outlook appears positive. “This disease is a strange deal. If you get through it — very few people do — then you have the chance of a full recovery. I’ve done very, very well and hopefully look forward to a full recovery.” If Boozman had had to retire for health reasons, his seat might have switched parties, with Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe tasked with appointing an interim successor.
College Try Rep. Peter Welch seems like he could have been Rep. Trey Gowdy’s old college professor. Welch, at 67, is liberal and cerebral and doesn’t try to hide his half-bald head. Gowdy, at 49, is a conservative rabble-rouser from South Carolina with a blond punk hairdo. Who knew they would get along? They met through a common staffer who worked for Welch when he was Vermont’s Senate president. The aide then moved to South Carolina to work for Gowdy. And it turns out they had more in common than that. They agree that college costs too much, and they cosponsored legislation to curb higher-education regulations and permit alternate pathways to college degrees. Of Gowdy, Welch says, “He’s got a weird haircut, but he’s a good guy.”
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No matter that his recall of foreign leaders leaves something to be desired, Gary Johnson is the choice of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board. The editors argue that Donald Trump couldn't do the job of president, while hitting Hillary Clinton for "her intent to greatly increase federal spending and taxation, and serious questions about honesty and trust." Which leaves them with Johnson. "Every American who casts a vote for him is standing for principles," they write, "and can be proud of that vote. Yes, proud of a candidate in 2016."
Speaking at the funeral of former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, President Obama "compared Peres to 'other giants of the 20th century' such as Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth who 'find no need to posture or traffic in what's popular in the moment.'" Among the 6,000 mourners at the service was Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Obama called Abbas's presence a sign of the "unfinished business of peace" in the region.
Three million—a number that lays "bare the significant gap between Donald Trump’s bare-bones operation and the field program that Clinton and her hundreds of aides have been building for some 17 months."
In a somewhat shocking move, the Chicago Tribune has endorsed Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson for president, saying a vote for him is one that voters "can be proud of." The editorial barely touches on Donald Trump, who the paper has time and again called "unfit to be president," before offering a variety of reasons for why it can't endorse Hillary Clinton. Johnson has been in the news this week for being unable to name a single world leader who he admires, after earlier this month being unable to identify "Aleppo," a major Syrian city in the middle of the country's ongoing war.
"By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump." That's the message from USA Today editors, who are making the first recommendation on a presidential race in the paper's 34-year history. It's not exactly an endorsement; they make clear that the editorial board "does not have a consensus for a Clinton endorsement." But they state flatly that Donald Trump is, by "unanimous consensus of the editorial board, unfit for the presidency."