Washington Sketch: Obama Has Two Parties, but No Big Mouse, in White House for His Birthday

By Dana Milbank
Wednesday, August 5, 2009

President Obama, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs joked, wanted to spend his birthday at Chuck E. Cheese, but the restaurant was booked.

So as he marked his 48th year Tuesday, the 44th president opted to celebrate in a place known for similarly childlike antics: the White House briefing room. He walked into the room unannounced at the start of the daily gathering and presented half a dozen cupcakes to Helen Thomas, who turned 41 on the day Obama was born.

This, of course, assumes that Obama was, in fact, born in Hawaii on Aug. 4, 1961, as state officials attest, and not on some other date in some other country, as conspiracy-minded conservatives believe. If they are correct, it may be more appropriate to wish the president a happy birther day.

Either way, Obama's unexpected arrival in the briefing room turned the place into something very much resembling a Chuck E. Cheese game room, without the red plastic crowns. Some correspondents leapt to their feet, only to be shouted down by the cameramen. Others whipped out their pocket cameras and took snapshots. Raghubir Goyal, a press corps regular who works for an obscure Indian American publication, positioned himself so Obama would have to shake his hand when leaving.

A transcript furnished by the Federal News Service captured the kerfuffle:

MR. GIBBS: Chip?

Q Is that -- (off mike)?

MR. GIBBS: Chip?

Q (Laughs.)

Q That's the great thing --

Q Oh my --

Q Ooooh!

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