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Returning from Hawaii. (Photo/WWR)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Today in the West Wing: May 24, 2010

Full damage control: the White House is pulling out all the stops on the BP spill as a new gusher erupts: a gusher of criticism over what even some Democrats say is an insufficient response – or at least the appearance of one – to the crisis.

Press secretary Robert Gibbs disputes the notion that the White House is behind the curve on the BP catastrophe - he appeared yesterday on the CBS program "Face the Nation:"

"I don't think anybody could credibly say even as frustrated as they are, and as frustrated as we are, that the government has stood around, done nothing and hoped for the best. We were activated the moment that this oil rig exploded, this has been on the President's agenda ever since that happened and we have mobilized every aspect that we possibly can in our government. There have been calls to every sector of our government to ask for help."

But in a sign of defensiveness, Gibbs called White House reporters into the West Wing Friday and criticized them for asking too many BP questions.

He’ll get a lot more today – when he appears with Admiral Thad Allen – the Coast Guard Commandant who’s been working with BP these last few weeks. As for President Obama – he’ll hold a noon conference call with Gulf Coast Governors to discuss the latest developments.

North Korea Tensions Increase

Dramatic late night developments concerning that sinking of a South Korean warship, which killed 46 people. South Korea, which formally accuses North Korea of the attack, is demanding an apology and the punishment of those responsible.

The White House, early this morning, issued a statement saying President Obama fully backs South Korean President Lee in the matter:

"Specifically, we endorse President Lee’s demand that North Korea immediately apologize and punish those responsible for the attack, and, most importantly, stop its belligerent and threatening behavior. U.S. support for South Korea’s defense is unequivocal, and the President has directed his military commanders to coordinate closely with their Republic of Korea counterparts to ensure readiness and to deter future aggression."

The tough message is undoubtedly meant to both reassure South Korea and, perhaps, more importantly, send a message to North Korea. The Communist North has threatened "all out war" in the matter if it comes to that.

Officially, the Korean War - which took 36,000 American lives in just three years - has never ended. A truce was signed - but not a peace treaty - back in 1953.

There are some 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea. A U.S. diplomatic source in Seoul tells WWR the atmosphere is "noticeably more tense" today.


The Schedule


9:00AM In-Town Travel Pool Call Time

9:30AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
Oval Office
Closed Press

10:20AM THE PRESIDENT attends a reception for the Federal Judge Association
State Floor
Closed Press

11:05AM THE PRESIDENT meets with senior advisors
Oval Office
Closed Press

12:00PM THE PRESIDENT participates in the daily briefing call with Gulf Coast Governors on the BP oil spill
Oval Office
Closed Press

2:30PM THE PRESIDENT welcomes Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon to the White House
Oval Office
Pool Still Photographers Spray at the Bottom (Pool Gather Time 2:10PM--Brady Press Briefing Room)

4:00PM THE PRESIDENT host a reception to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
East Room
Pooled Press (Pre-Set 2:00PM //Final Gather 3:30PM—North Doors of the Palm Room)

4:30PM THE PRESIDENT meets with Secretary of Defense Gates
Oval Office
Closed Press

Briefing Schedule

3:00PM Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and United States Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen


Presidential Quote

"I reject the cynical view that politics is a dirty business." - Richard Nixon

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