The Note: Pretzel Logic

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13

NEWS SUMMARY

These things happen in politics: the world is on hold while we await the answers to a few substantive and process questions.

For some, it all boils down to:

Privacy or plan?

Chaos or cover-up?

Mr. President -- get on the blogs, switch on the radio, and you'll know -- your project to change the tone in our politics is unfinished.

On a January Monday in 2002, the Houston Chronicle's Bennett Roth reported: "President Bush fainted briefly Sunday evening after choking on a pretzel while watching a football game in the White House residence, an Administration spokesman said."

"The president, who was examined by Dr. Richard Tubb, an Air Force colonel and physician at the White House, was not found to have any serious health problems and went to bed early after a dinner of soup and salad."

"'Dr. Tubb believes this could have been caused by a temporary decrease of the heart rate,' said White House spokesman Ken Lisaius, who added that the president had not been feeling well over the weekend."

That same day, White House spox Ari Fleischer briefed the press on the matter (Although the transcript of that January 14, 2002 briefing is missing from the White House's website LINK (And why are that month's briefings all labeled as "May.") (Why did The Note have to read the pretzel briefing on this site? LINK)

From that briefing:

Q: How does the President feel today?

MR. FLEISCHER: He feels fine. Still a little under the weather. But in terms of the fainting, he feels fine, he said, but he still has a runny nose and feels a little bit under the weather.

Q: Due to the size of the injury, is he still concluding that he hit his glasses?

MR. FLEISCHER: Yes. The President said this morning his glasses -- told me last night, too -- his glasses are bent.

Q: So you think that's actually what he hit and didn't bend them some other way?

MR. FLEISCHER: He thinks it was either any combination of the table, the floor and the glasses. He was wearing the glasses. They could have hit the table, hit the floor.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan will get his chance to be like Ari when he takes his first whack at all the Cheney-related questions at the 9:25 am ET gaggle.

McClellan will repeat his performance on-camera at 12:15 pm ET.

At the conclusion of his 1:15 pm ET Oval Office meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, President Bush is expected to address the White House press pool, with Vice President Cheney scheduled to attend, too. The Note predicts the use of humor at this event to try to turn the page.

A little joking and a few more facts and we can all put this behind us. Otherwise, this will be our collective lives for the full week. Up to you, David Addington (read: "Mary Matalin.")

The press will first see President Bush at 10:40 am ET when he makes remarks at the presentation of national medals in science and technology in the East Room of the White House.

President Bush welcomes the World Champion Chicago White Sox to the White House at 2:35 pm ET. Later tonight, the President is scheduled to attend a closed NRSC fundraiser at a private residence in Washington, DC.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Acting FEMA Director David Paulison address the National Emergency Management Association mid-year conference in Alexandria, VA at 11:30 am ET.

Members of the President's Council of Economic Advisers brief the press on camera at 1:30 pm ET.

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