Hall of Presidents


That, and other news, in today’s Roundup and Recap.

President Bush told President-elect Barack Obama, “We wish you all the very best, and so does the country.” Obama called it “an extraordinary gathering.” And former President Bill Clinton could be heard telling the group — that also included former President George H.W. Bush and former President Jimmy Carter — “I love this rug.”

The setting was the Oval Office on Wednesday, where four presidents and one soon to be held a photo op after an unusual luncheon meeting. The cinematic moment, carried live on news networks, didn’t carry much in the way of news as it did history. It was the first time that so my commander in chiefs have visted the White House since 1981, when Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Carter and President Reagan gathered before the former three traveled to Egypt for Anwar Sadat’s funeral. (For trivia buffs, the largest gathering of presidents took place in 1991, when Ford, Nixon, Carter, Reagan and the elder Bush attended the dedication of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif.)

As historic as the meeting was, particularly for an incoming president, it also was dire signal of the unprecedented challenges facing Obama and the country.

Congrats Al: Air America sends best wishes to Al Franken, “Air America’s first senator.”

Poster in Portrait: Shepard Fairey’s “HOPE” poster of Barack Obama has been acquired by the National Portrait Gallery for display as part of its collection. 

North Star Sighs: Minnesotans are really tired of the Franken-Coleman race.

Keeps on Ticking: Joe the Plumber is becoming a war correspondent.

Media Moment: Is Obama the media’s best hope for a 2009 windfall?

Face the Music: Debbie Allen directs new music video “Obama Rock” and hopes it becomes an “official inaugural song.”

They Meet Again: Ann Coulter finally makes it to “Today,” interviewed by Matt Lauer.

Today’s Top Read: Max Blumenthal, on the Daily Beast, challenges the idea that Rick Warren’s work in Africa is beyond reproach.

He writes, “Warren has not been particularly forthcoming to those who have attempted to look into it. His website contains scant information about the results of his program. However, an investigation into Warren’s involvement in Africa reveals a web of alliances with right-wing clergymen who have sidelined science-based approaches to combating AIDS in favor of abstinence-only education. More disturbingly, Warren’s allies have rolled back key elements of one of the continent’s most successful initiative, the so-called ABC program in Uganda. Stephen Lewis, the United Nations’ special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, told the New York Times their activism is “resulting in great damage and undoubtedly will cause significant numbers of infections which should never have occurred.””

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