I love pool reports, those delicious minute-by-minute journalings of public activities by presidents and leading candidates. They’re written by members of the White House Press Pool, a rotating set of reporters from a group of news outlets that take call on different days. The write-ups are usually terse, but specific. As a general rule, the more ordinary the activity would be for anyone else, the more entertaining the report. It’
s funny how it often seems like the assigned reporter feels they are taking one for the team in covering the event. And how they add in personal touches. Inanity ensues as the President takes in a nice little Saturday:
Pool Report – Obama at Sasha Soccer Game: POTUS, in jeans and regular guy (Chicago White Sox) jacket, walked to motorcade with Chicago friends Eric Whitaker and Marty Nesbitt at 10:45.
Off we all went into Georgetown, sparking doubletakes by pedestrians.
Arrived at Boys and Girls Clubs at 10:57. POTUS headed to soccer field.
From soccer sideline with other, likely, parents, POTUS watched one of his daughters – Sasha -play in a game.
POTUS applauded, and cheered “go go go GOAL.” Threw up hands. From pooler’s perspective, it appeared that Sasha set up the successful goal. Her dad was very excited.Sasha is 7. Lots of similarly aged children at field, plus dogs. Kids overheard saying, “We’re gonna be on TV.”
Tidbits: Overcast day, but the Rose Garden is in full bloom (pooler is gardener).
A week or so later, he steps out to grabs some grub for the staff. This made it into last week’s smartly produced NBC News Special:
Pool Report – Obama Lunchtime Stop at Five Guys: Another Obama burger run, this time to a Five Guys in Southeast Washington. President Obama ordered cheeseburgers for himself and members of his staff, and paid at least $80 in cash. The entourage included a NBC News crew that has been trailing the president for a “day-in-the-life” documentary to air next week. NOTE: Obama visited Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington, Va., a few weeks ago. And First Lady Michelle Obama took her staff to another Five Guys in Washington earlier this year.
Motorcade left the White House at 12:42 p.m. The NBC crew caught Obama’s walk out with two crews, one stationed just outside the Oval Office and another on the other side of the presidential limo. The latter crew had a camera attached to a long crane that arched over the driveway.
At 12:51 p.m., we arrived at the Five Guys at 1100 New Jersey Ave. SE, a few blocks from Nationals Stadium. As the pool scurried up to the restaurant, we could shrieks of delight and squeals of “O, my God! O, My God!”
Obama, sans jacket, walked up the counter, scanned the menu posted above, and began ordering. Aides Reggie Love and Marvin Nicholson slipped him various requests from the crew. At one point, he brought up NBC’s Brian Williams, who ordered a cheeseburger with ketchup and fries. The pool believes it spotted the president peeling off at least four $20 bills for payments.
A little presidential dialogue: “Reggie, you got you orders? Where’s Reggie? Whaddya got?” To his order taker: “I need one cheeseburger and one fries for me. Jalapeno, tomato, mustard. That’s it for me …Plus lettuce on mine too.”
Obama then read out other orders, cheeseburgers and at least one grilled cheese sandwich, with various toppings. Unlike last time, Obama did not offer to buy food for the pool.
Obama received order slip number 41, then proceeded to walk around the restaurant to greet the patrons and pose for pictures.
He tended to ask people their and names and occupations. Hard to hear over the media and customer scrum in the small restaurant, but the pool picked up some snippets.
“How long you been doing that?” he asked one person. To one man who appeared to cite his military background, Obama said: “Appreciate your service.” At another point, Obama could be heard saying that someone “didn’t know the economy was going to collapse.”
A couple of women requested and got a group picture. “It’s such an honor,” one of the women told the president.
He asked a woman with a distinct accent where she was from, and she said, “Ireland.” Obama: “What part of Ireland?” “Dublin.”
Obama: “Dublin? Outstanding. I’ve got to visit Ireland.”
After his number was called, Obama went to claim his burgers and such. He summoned White House photographer Pete Souza for a group picture with the Five Guys staff.
Obama then walked out, carrying two very large brown paper bags. Motorcade left the site at 1:05 p.m., and was back at the White House at 1:15 p.m. Obama, jacket over his shoulder, walked to the Oval as the cameras rolled.
The odd thing is that while these reports have been going on for decades, they have rarely seeped out into the public for consumption. Only in the last couple years with the combination of the Internet and some intrepid users with access have these gems crept out. Just one more thing we have to thank Al Gore for.