Breaking News: President-Elect Drops Daughters Off at School, Heads for Gym

The Bushes and the Obamas, on common ground at the White House.
The Bushes and the Obamas, on common ground at the White House. (By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)
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By Dana Milbank
Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Barack Obama was called a socialist at most every stop the Republican ticket made during the campaign. So when Obama arrived in Washington yesterday for the first time as president-elect, the first thing the accused socialist did was sit down with an actual socialist: President Bush.

By reputation, of course, Bush is a free-market guy. But at 6 a.m. yesterday, his administration announced that it will take a $40 billion ownership stake in AIG, part of $150 billion in taxpayer money going to the insurance giant. This would be the same AIG that, days after the last government bailout it got, paid for a $440,000 golf and spa outing.

With the government already investing tens of billions in the banking industry, the airlines and home builders are also pleading for federal handouts. And the auto industry appears to be driving toward a bailout of at least $25 billion.

But are these really the most deserving industries? The Post's ombudsman, Deborah Howell, wrote in her column yesterday about a serious "tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama" in the paper's election coverage. And yet the Washington Post Co.'s earnings declined 86 percent in the third quarter. Surely, all the favorable coverage of Obama over the past two years has earned the newspaper industry a bailout from the Obama administration.

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The president-elect has reached the stage where even the slightest burp or hiccup becomes national news. Obama made no big announcement yesterday, so the world had to settle for small news. "EXCLUSIVE: The Obamas have arranged a tour of at least one D.C. private school," Politico reported.

And, speaking of the Obama girls' schooling, yesterday's Obama pool reporter, the New York Times's Jeff Zeleny, found himself doubling as education and fitness writer: "President-elect Barack Obama dropped his two daughters off at school this morning a few minutes before 8. It was a quick goodbye, with a kiss for Malia and a kiss for Sasha. . . . He was dressed for the gym, where he arrived a few minutes later."

This raised the possibility of even bigger news. How much did Obama bench-press? How many reps? How many minutes on the elliptical machine? Did he shower? Alas, Zeleny came up empty on this breaking news. Instead, he had moved on to become the New York Times's traffic and transportation reporter:

"President-elect Obama left the gym at 9:25 am -- after 1 hour and 20 minutes inside the Regents Park apartment building -- for a quick ride back to his house. The motorcade left Hyde Park at 10:05, en route to O'Hare, slowed along the way by heavy traffic west of the Loop. He arrived to the Signature Aviation entrance of the field at 10:45 a.m., where an American Airlines plane was waiting. . . . The flight is 1 hour, 17 minutes."

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Obama was wearing dark sunglasses when he got off the plane at Reagan National. Instead of the usual campaign SUV, he climbed into a presidential-style limousine with all the bells and whistles: a black hazmat truck, a communications van and a decoy limo.

Hundreds of spectators waited outside the White House for his arrival. But if they were hoping for a good look at the president-elect, they were probably disappointed. Usually even a photo op requires a politician to say a few words as he waves to the cameras.

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