White House

Cheney plans to retire from public life

Vice President Dick Cheney has said he expects to retire completely from public life after January 20 and return to Wyoming following nearly 40 years serving four presidents in Washington.

"Well, that’s my expectation," Cheney said Wednesday on CBS radio when asked if he would make a complete exit from the stage in 13 days, when he and President George W. Bush hand over to president-elect Barack Obama and vice president-elect Joseph Biden.

Obama offers split message on spending

To a public wary of government spending, President-elect Barack Obama is offering a salve with his massive economic stimulus package: the promise of long-term fiscal discipline.

Budget-conscious lawmakers are pressing Obama to embrace deficit-reduction goals even as he promotes a spending and tax-cutting plan — expected to cost about $775 billion — to jolt the economy out of its downward spiral.

"Part of the discussion that needs to happen right now is not what we do just right now, but what we look to in the future — about how we get back to a balanced budget and then start to deal with this horrible, horrible national debt that we have," said Rep. Dennis Moore of Kansas, a member of the congressional Blue Dogs, a coalition of conservative and moderate Democrats.

Obama defends Panetta pick

President-elect Barack Obama gave a strong defense on Tuesday of his choice to lead the CIA, Leon Panetta, in the face of criticism that Panetta lacks experience on intelligence matters.

Two senior Democrats, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, raised questions on Monday about Panetta’s limited intelligence expertise after word leaked out that Panetta had been picked by Obama for CIA.

Panetta pick could be a problem for Obama

President-elect Barack Obama’s selection of an old White House hand to head the CIA shows a preference for a strong manager over an intelligence expert.

Obama’s decision to name Leon Panetta to lead the premier U.S. intelligence agency surprised the spy community and signaled the Democrat’s intention for a clean break from Bush administration policies.

Obama’s calculated silence on Gaza

President-elect Barack Obama’s studied silence on the subject of Israel’s 10-day-old war against Palestinian Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip is only partly out of deference to the man who still has the big job for two more weeks.

Obama’s reserve is also a political calculation that saying nothing is the better of his unappealing options. At least it lets all sides think he’s in their corner for a little while longer.

Obama returns to a crisis-filled Washington


President-elect Barack Obama flew into Washington this weekend on the wings of hope and into a storm of issues that will challenge his Presidency when he takes office in 15 days.

Richardson withdraws as Commerce nominee

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson abandoned his nomination to become commerce secretary under pressure of a grand jury investigation into a state contract awarded to his political donors — an investigation that threatened to embarrass President-elect Barack Obama.

Richardson insisted he would be cleared in the investigation and Obama stood by the governor as an "outstanding public servant." But both men said it has become clear that a grand jury probe would not be finished in time for Richardson’s confirmation hearings and could keep him from filling the post in a timely matter.

Richardson’s withdrawal was the first disruption of Obama’s Cabinet process and the second "pay-to-play" investigation that has touched Obama’s transition to the presidency. The president-elect has remained above the fray in both the case of arrested Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the New Mexico case.

Bush’s personality shaped his Presidency

President George W. Bush will be judged on what he did. He will also be remembered for what he’s like: a fast-moving, phrase-mangling Texan who stays upbeat even though his country is not.

For eight years, the nation has been led by a guy who relaxes by clearing brush in scorching heat and taking breakneck bike rides through the woods. He dishes out nicknames to world leaders, and even gave the German chancellor an impromptu, perhaps unwelcome, neck rub. He’s annoyed when kept waiting and sticks relentlessly to routine. He stays optimistic in even the most dire circumstances, but readily tears up in public. He has little use for looking within himself, and only lately has done much looking back.

Bush’s style and temperament are as much his legacy as his decisions. Policy shapes lives, but personality creates indelible memories — positive and negative.

Call it distinctly Bush.

Bush: ‘We want a lasting Mideast cease-file’

President George W. Bush says any cease-fire in the Mideast must be fully respected, Hamas rocket attacks on Israel stopped and the flow of smuggled weapons into Gaza cut off.

Bush called the Hamas attacks an "act of terror" and said no peace deal would be acceptable unless the flow of smuggled weapons to terrorist groups is monitored and stopped. He made the comments in his weekly radio address taped for broadcast Saturday but released a day early.

Obama putting finishing touch on economic plan

President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team is putting the finishing touches on an economic recovery plan that could run from $675 billion to $775 billion. Briefings for top congressional Democratic officials are likely this weekend or on Monday, a senior transition official said Friday. Obama is slated to meet Monday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in a session likely to focus on the economic recovery package.