Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama takes presidential oath again after stumble



Obama takes presidential oath again after stumble

WASHINGTON (AP) — After the flub heard around the world, President Barack Obama has taken the oath of office. Again. Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the oath to Obama on Wednesday night at the White House — a rare do-over. The surprise moment came in response to Tuesday's much-noticed stumble, when Roberts got the words of the oath a little off, which prompted Obama to do so, too.

Don't worry, the White House says: Obama has still been president since noon on Inauguration Day.
Nevertheless, Obama and Roberts went through the drill again out of what White House counsel Greg Craig called "an abundance of caution."

This time, the scene was the White House Map Room in front of a small group of reporters, not the Capitol platform before the whole watching world.

"We decided that because it was so much fun ...," Obama joked to reporters who followed press secretary Robert Gibbs into the room. No TV camera crews or news photographers were allowed in. A few of Obama's closest aides were there, along with a White House photographer.
Roberts put on his black robe.

"Are you ready to take the oath?" he said.

"Yes, I am," Obama said. "And we're going to do it very slowly."

Roberts then led Obama through the oath without any missteps.
The president said he did not have his Bible with him, but that the oath was binding anyway.
The original, bungled version on Tuesday caught observers by surprise and then got replayed on cable news shows.

It happened when Obama interrupted Roberts midway through the opening line, in which the president repeats his name and solemnly swears.

Next in the oath is the phrase " ... that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States." But Roberts rearranged the order of the words, not saying "faithfully" until after "president of the United States."
That appeared to throw Obama off. He stopped abruptly at the word "execute."
Recognizing something was off, Roberts then repeated the phrase, putting "faithfully" in the right place but without repeating "execute."

But Obama then repeated Roberts' original, incorrect version: "... the office of president of the United States faithfully."

Craig, the White House lawyer, said in a statement Wednesday evening: "We believe the oath of office was administered effectively and that the president was sworn in appropriately yesterday. Yet the oath appears in the Constitution itself. And out of the abundance of caution, because there was one word out of sequence, Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the oath a second time."

The Constitution is clear about the exact wording of the oath and as a result, some constitutional experts have said that a do-over probably wasn't necessary but also couldn't hurt. Two other previous presidents have repeated the oath because of similar issues, Calvin Coolidge and Chester A. Arthur.

Associated Press writer Phil Elliott contributed to this report.

source : http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gvwcUbiSH7YVjguRrvCCelkC2J-wD95RT32O1

Monday, January 5, 2009

Transparency at Apple



Transparency at Apple

Clearly, Plan A didn't work. Few bought Apple Inc.'s insistence that Steve Jobs taking a pass on Macworld had nothing to do with his health. Check out the stock price and the rumors of Jobs' declining condition in the days following last month's announcement. Plan B - Jobs acknowledging a hormone imbalance for which he is undergoing a "relatively simple" treatment - appears to be more reassuring. At least judging by the 4 percent rise in Apple shares on Monday, and the generally favorable reception to Jobs' public statement on what heretofore had been a strictly "private matter."

"He did an excellent job, striking the right balance between his personal privacy and the need to be open with consumers and investors," said Sam Singer, president of Singer Associates Inc., a San Francisco public relations firm.

The episode may also provide an object lesson in transparency, a quality neither the company nor its iconic leader are especially known for. Especially when it comes to the latter. One earlier example: The Apple PR department's claim that Jobs' diminished appearance, when remarked upon last summer, was merely the reaction to a "common bug."

(Not) speaking truth to power: Then again, that's most likely what the PR people were told to say about that, and about Jobs' nonappearance at Macworld. "At companies like Apple, PR people get their hands tied. Management gives the marching orders," said Steve Simon, president of SS/PR in Palo Alto. Given his well-known predilection for controlling all things great and small, Jobs was probably the one slapping on the ropes.

"Could this be seen as a failure of PR, that he's now backtracking (on the original Macworld explanation)? Absolutely. But Jobs lives by his own rules," said Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations in New York. Jobs' thinking in the Macworld turnabout, speculates Torossian, went something like this: " 'I tried to get away with it a few weeks ago, I didn't, so here's what we're going to do now.' "

"Sinatra's song, 'I did it my way' - that's Steve Jobs. The days and weeks ahead will tell whether it's going to work," said Torossian.

Honesty, the best PR policy: No reason it shouldn't be, according to Ben Bajarin, consumer technology analyst at Creative Strategies in Campbell, which focuses on Apple and other Silicon Valley companies. "If it was anything more serious and Steve was not in a position to run the company, the board would immediately make it known." That's not likely in the foreseeable future, Bajarin added. "Apple doesn't have anything to worry about, and Steve doesn't have anything to worry about. I don't see him going away."

But Bajarin did acknowledge Apple could pick up some pointers from the current brouhaha. "We've never seen the health of a corporate leader be such a big deal. We're treading new ground here and perhaps Apple didn't realize what a public figure (Jobs) had become," he said. "With such intense public scrutiny, it's probably best to err on the side of complete honesty, even if it's something bad."

"He's become a victim of his own success," said Torossian. "Because now he's being watched."

Tips, feedback: E-mail bottomline@sfchronicle.com

This article appeared on page D - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

source : http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/01/05/BU17153SRV.DTL

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Obama arrives in Washington, grapples with cabinet headache


Obama arrives in Washington, grapples with cabinet headache

WASHINGTON (AFP) — President-elect Barack Obama, starting his new life in Washington, faced Sunday the first major embarrassment over his cabinet lineup as his choice for commerce secretary was forced to pull out.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson said he was withdrawing his name from contention for the economic job owing to an investigation into a financial company doing business with his state.

Richardson's withdrawal came after Obama left Chicago for Washington to join his family and begin the final countdown before his inauguration as president on January 20.

After winning plaudits for a smooth transition process thus far, Obama must now rapidly find a replacement to Richardson on top of crafting a mammoth economic rescue bill that Democrats in Congress hope to pass early next month.

The package, worth up to one trillion dollars, is needed to prevent a "much deeper economic downturn" with the United States already in the grip of recession, Obama said Saturday in a weekly radio address.

In a joint statement issued with Obama, Richardson said he had asked the president-elect to pull his name from the Senate confirmation process with "great sorrow."

"But a pending investigation of a company that has done business with New Mexico state government promises to extend for several weeks or, perhaps, even months," he said in the statement, without going into details.

The Commerce Department is not in the front lines of US economic policy-making, but Richardson, a heavy-hitter who was said initially to be in consideration for the State Department, becomes the first big name to quit the putative Obama administration.

The withdrawal came a month after Obama nominated the top Hispanic politician to the Commerce Department on December 3, when a federal grand jury investigation into the company was already under way.

"It is a measure of his willingness to put the nation first that he has removed himself as a candidate for the cabinet in order to avoid any delay in filling this important economic post at this critical time," Obama said.

The federal grand jury in Albuquerque is investigating how the company, CDR Financial Products, won lucrative contracts to advise New Mexico state authorities four years ago after donating money to Richardson.

Richardson, insisting he had done nothing wrong, said he would continue as New Mexico governor "for now" as the investigation into the California-based firm plays out.

On Monday, the president-elect was to hold a flurry of meetings on Capitol Hill and convene his economic team -- now shorn of Richardson.

Obama landed at Andrews Air Force Base, at 7:00 pm (0000 GMT), and then shuttled by motorcade to Washington to join his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, who are preparing to enter the exclusive Sidwell Friends School Monday.

The incoming first family are staying at the luxury Hay-Adams Hotel overlooking the White House before moving to the president's official guest home, Blair House, on January 15.

Discussing Obama's top domestic priority, House of Representatives Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told "Fox News Sunday" that Democrats in Congress hope to approve the economic stimulus plan by early February.

While confirming the package would total from 775 billion to one trillion dollars, Hoyer said it was unlikely lawmakers would get the recovery package passed before inauguration day as initially hoped.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was more circumspect about the bill's timing, but also stressed that speed was essential.

"We'll be working nights. We're going to be working weekends. We're going to get this done," he said on ABC, pledging to reach out to Republicans who are fretting about the prospect of a far-reaching expansion of government.

Obama got a taste of Republican opposition to come after the New York Times reported Sunday that he was considering a major expansion of government health care insurance and unemployment benefits in the stimulus bill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said those proposals amounted to "very big systemic changes" that would permanently alter the economy, and demanded further debate

source : http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5griIZIGmj7qTpLhpNiAbtVivGt8Q

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