The President-Elect, Talking Turkey

The soon-to-be-first family passes out food in Chicago (recipes from the Kitchen Cabinet available on request).
The soon-to-be-first family passes out food in Chicago (recipes from the Kitchen Cabinet available on request). (Pool Photo By Frank Polich Via Getty Images)
By Dana Milbank
Thursday, November 27, 2008

President-elect Obama had nearly finished his third news conference in as many days yesterday when he decided to favor his audience with one more tasty morsel of information about the just-announced members of his economic team.

"I want you to know that both Paul and Austan have special turkey-cooking recipes, if anybody out here needs some advice on how to make the ideal turkey," Obama offered.

Let's leave aside the question of whether credible cooking advice could come from Carter Fed Chairman Paul Volcker or University of Chicago economist Austan Goolsbee. Let's also look beyond the question of whether, at a time when the economy has gone afoul, we want it run by people who specialize in making "the ideal turkey."

The real news is that Obama had clearly run out of things to say.

It is a case of being careful of what one asks for. When Obama went to ground for about 10 days, making no public announcements and furtively slipping in and out of the gym, pundits wondered what had become of the "transparent transition" he promised. But Obama buried that complaint this week with an extraordinary blitz: His second, third and fourth news conferences set a new record for a modern president-elect, and he still has nearly two months to go.

But Obama is not in charge yet -- a point he makes with such regularity it seems to have become a tic. And so, after he makes the day's personnel announcements, voices concern about the economy and speaks vaguely about his plans, there isn't much left to say. In an interview with ABC News's Barbara Walters broadcast Wednesday night, Obama found himself talking about giving up his BlackBerry ("This is a problem") and his daughters' chores:

Michelle Obama: "They're gonna need to be able to make their beds and . . ."

Walters: "Really?"

Michelle Obama: "They do that now."

Walters: "In the White House they're gonna have to make the beds and clean up their rooms?"

Barack Obama: "Doing that since they were 4 years old."

Michelle Obama: "That's gonna be one of my goals. Don't make their beds. Make mine." (Laughs)


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