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'The One' Was Here!

The president-elect had the foresight to ask about the weather. "What's Tuesday looking like?" he wondered.

By now he had circled past the Metro staff and obit desk and was making his way toward the North Wall of top editors' offices, where he stopped to chat with Deputy Managing Editor Milton Coleman, who gave him a copy of the paper's special election edition proclaiming Obama's victory. Then it was into national-staff territory, where Obama asked one campaign reporter if he had recovered from the trail but seemed surprised to learn that another, Philip Rucker, had spent 13 days covering his vacation in Hawaii, where he gave the media a wide berth.

Graham introduced Obama to Walter Pincus, saying the reporter had been covering the CIA for decades.

Obama briefly chatted with a handful of staffers. He asked a pregnant news aide when she was due. "I hear Barack's a good name," he said. Obama also posed for a picture with an electrician who has worked at the paper for half a century.

While the environment seemed safe enough, a Secret Service agent at one point ordered assistant national editor Carlos Lozada to take his hands out of his pockets.

One of the pool reporters, Helene Cooper of the New York Times, seemed less than enthusiastic about the incursion into Post land. She wrote that Obama arrived "at 157 pm at the nondescript soviet-style building at 15th and L street that houses the washington post." All right, it's no architectural prize, but at least we haven't had to mortgage our headquarters like a certain Manhattan-based newspaper.

A joke in Cooper's report quickly ricocheted to the Drudge Report. Surveying the scene on the street, she wrote that "around 100 people--Post reporters perhaps?--awaited PEOTUS's arrival, cheering and bobbing their coffee cups." For the record, eyewitnesses say these were just onlookers from nearby buildings. No one had a press card in his or her hat. But Matt Drudge depicted it thusly in a red-ink headline: "'CHEERING AT THE WASHINGTON POST FOR OBAMA ARRIVAL." (He modified it after my initial post on the visit.)

Inside the newsroom, as Obama finally came full circle around the warren of offices and cubicles, he declared: "All right, back to work!" And he had correctly analyzed the situation: All work in The Post newsroom had ground to a halt.

Here, by the way, is the substantive portion of the program:

"President-elect Barack Obama pledged yesterday to shape a new Social Security and Medicare 'bargain' with the American people, saying that the nation's long-term economic recovery cannot be attained unless the government finally gets control over its most costly entitlement programs.

"That discussion will begin next month, Obama said, when he convenes a 'fiscal responsibility summit' before delivering his first budget to Congress. He said his administration will begin confronting the issues of entitlement reform and long-term budget deficits soon after it jump-starts job growth and the stock market."

I hope he fares better than George Bush did on the Social Security front.


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