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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

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December 9, 2013 - 1:58 pm
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There’s nothing like a communal flight with the current president of the United States and his predecessor to make the press miss the days of a communicative commander in chief.

George W. and Laura Bush joined the Obamas on Air Force One en route to Johannesburg, South Africa, for a Nelson Mandela memorial service.

Hillary Clinton was also on board, with Bill and Chelsea coming to the service from a Clinton Global Initiative event in Rio.

The Obamas have stayed in their cabin for the flight, according to the White House pool report from the refueling stop in Senegal, while President Bush came to the press cabin twice for a total of about an hour and a half.

Once he was accompanied by Laura. Both times he was chatting off the record, saying hi to longtime reporters and greeting newer correspondents. Bush has been building cervical cancer screening clinics in Africa since his retirement from public office.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Attorney General Eric Holder and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett were also on the flight but avoided the press. The pool report noted that Holder wandered into the press cabin “before realizing the treacherous territory he’d ventured into and moving on.”

Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes told reporters aboard Air Force One that Obama would speak for about 10 to 15 minutes at the Mandela service, but stressed the South African government will “have the full run of show.”

“We’ve been in touch with the Mandela family and are seeking to see if there is time for them to meet.  Unfortunately, we don’t know for certain because things are so fluid on the ground.  But we would certainly like the opportunity for the President to pay his respects to Graça Machel and the broader Mandela family.  Beyond that, we don’t expect any bilateral meetings of any sort.  I presume that he will certainly see President Zuma, have a chance to speak to him, but not in any kind of formal way,” Rhodes said of Obama’s time in South Africa.

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Top Rated Comments   
Hee Hee... I bet the press forgot that no matter how ugly they got, Bush always treated them courteously and was genuinely interested in them.

Of course, I figure if I had my choice of spending an hour and a half with the Obamas and the Clintons or with the Press Pool - I'd take the Press Pool everytime!
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wow!

Obama's old lady on the same plane on a trip?

Well, I guess there's a first time for everything.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well we all know why Odumbo didn't talk to reporters. he was afraid one of them might ask him a hard question. Bush on the other hand was and is a class act.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (33)
All Comments   (33)
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49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
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49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
How does that song go again...?

Oh, yes, that's it: "Little things mean a lot..."

Yes they do.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Let me write the speech. I....I......I ....courageous...I ......Mandela.....I....Africa....Michelle shout out!...I.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton's 'aid' was also there? Why?

Who paid for her trip?
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bill or Hill, they got the coin after years of servicing the public.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Imagine...How does one feel being the President of the United States (or those closely associated with him) and having to hide in a corner (are there corners in a plane?) to avoid American citizens, one of whom being the predecessor he/they so blatantly bashed over the years? If the Obama Administration keeps shrinking further, they'll all be "entering their corner" in 2016 at 4' 11," 85 pounds...and in for a severe political whoopin.'
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sitting in the corner. Maybe there's a cell on Robben Island we could rent after a certain crook's term of office ends?
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is being reported how long this flight is. But pray tell, if you are on a 747 that is customized for you, it isn't like he is stuck in a seat, with no walking space, so can we spare the pity party about how long he was on the flight.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wow, Eric Holder was there? It's been a while since he's stuck his head out in public. Did he see his shadow? Will there be six more weeks of winter?
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, Dubya, I miss you. A lot. Two thumbs up for George and Laura.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
To hell with them, too.
He should have done so much more and spent so much less.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
In his speech will Onama be able to resist saying: "If I had had a father he would have looked like Nelson Mandela"?
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
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