Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
11:40 AM ET, 04/29/2009

Michael D. Shear and Ann Scott Tyson write in The Washington Post: "White House press secretary Robert Gibbs pointedly refused to rule out a firing in the case of the Air Force One backup's flight that terrified some in New York City on Monday....Gibbs reiterated that President Obama was 'furious' about the decision, and he said the deputy chief of staff will conduct the review."

Anne Gearan writes for the Associated Press: "The taxpayer bill for Monday's presidential plane flight over Manhattan was $328,835. The political cost to the Obama White House will be harder to calculate."

Lauran Neergaard writes for the Associated Press: "President Barack Obama suggested Wednesday that school closings may be necessary, in an escalating global health emergency...Obama said the federal government is 'prepared to do whatever is necessary to control the impact of this virus.' He noted his request for $1.5 billion in emergency funding to ensure adequate supplies of vaccines."

Steven Mufson writes in The Washington Post that "the Obama administration finds itself in control of many of the pillars of U.S. finance and industry, but it is playing its role reluctantly. Obama's goal is to fix them, not run them, the White House says. With regard to GM, for example, one official said this week that the administration's 'goal is to exert as little influence as possible' and 'to exit as quickly as possible.' Yet the Obama administration, on behalf of American taxpayers, has become -- or will soon become -- the controlling shareholder of General Motors and Chrysler, mortgage behemoths Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and insurance giant AIG, not to mention the 29 banks taken over this year by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. And that puts the president in the awkward position of balancing public policy goals with the financial interests of taxpayers as investors in these ailing corporations."

Neil A. Lewis writes in the New York Times: "Judge Jay S. Bybee broke his silence on Tuesday and defended the conclusions of legal memorandums he had signed as a Bush administration lawyer that allowed use of several coercive interrogation practices on suspected terrorists. Judge Bybee, who issued the memorandums as the head of the Office of Legal Counsel and was later nominated to the federal appeals court by President George W. Bush, said in a statement in response to questions from The New York Times that he continued to believe that the memorandums represented 'a good-faith analysis of the law' that properly defined the thin line between harsh treatment and torture....Judge Bybee said he was issuing a statement following reports that he had regrets over his role in the memorandums, including an article in The Washington Post on Saturday to that effect."

Al Kamen writes in The Washington Post: "President Obama's Cabinet was finally filled yesterday after the Senate, on the eve of President Obama's 100th day in office, voted 65 to 31 to confirm Kathleen Sebelius to head the Department of Health and Human Services....As expected, Obama, with 102 nominations pending before the Senate and 65 officials confirmed, has far outpaced his modern predecessors back to Ronald Reagan in terms of overall appointment activity. Obama nearly beat the Reagan juggernaut in terms of confirmed nominees, though the Reagan White House still holds the record at 73 appointees confirmed, according to the White House Transition Project."

Christopher Drew writes in the New York Times that Obama's decision to halt an expensive program to build new presidential helicopters is being challenged by "several influential lawmakers and defense analysts" who "are now calling for a compromise that would salvage a simpler version of the helicopter that is already being tested."

New York Times opinion columnist Maureen Dowd writes bad fiction.

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