If These Walls Could Talk: Shotgun Willie goes to the White House
September 10th, 2012
11:46 AM ET

If These Walls Could Talk: Shotgun Willie goes to the White House

Washington (CNN) – Former President Jimmy Carter once told Rolling Stone magazine that “all the good things I did as president, all the mistakes I made - you can blame half of that on Willie.”

The Willie that Carter is referring to is none other than Willie Nelson, the famed “outlaw” country singer known for his unique sound and his affinity for marijuana.

Although Carter was known as a buttoned-up president - during the 1976 campaign, he regularly highlighted his Southern Baptist roots and his role as a Sunday school teacher - the former governor of Georgia was also known to escape the pressures of the presidency by listening to Willie Nelson.

And on September 13, 1980, the president’s love for the music of the “redheaded stranger” was fulfilled when Nelson played for Carter at the White House.


Topics: White House
If These Walls Could Talk: Pardoning Nixon
On September 8, 1974, President Gerald Ford told the American people that he had pardoned his predecessor, former President Richard Nixon.
September 3rd, 2012
11:23 AM ET

If These Walls Could Talk: Pardoning Nixon

Washington (CNN) – Sitting in the Oval Office, President Gerald Ford delivered the speech that many Americans hoped he never would give.

On September 8, 1974, Ford told the American people that he had pardoned his predecessor, President Richard Nixon, “for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in" during his presidency.

Ford made the case that his decision was part of an effort to begin healing the wounds caused by the Watergate saga, a political scandal involving the break-in at the Democratic National Committee and the subsequent coverup by the Nixon White House.

“My conscience tells me clearly and certainly that I cannot prolong the bad dreams that continue to reopen a chapter that is closed,” Ford told the American people. “My conscience tells me that only I, as president, have the constitutional power to firmly shut and seal this book. My conscience tells me it is my duty, not merely to proclaim domestic tranquillity, but to use every means that I have to insure it.”


Topics: White House
CNN Money: Rules to double U.S. fuel economy to 54.5 mpg by 2024
August 29th, 2012
10:41 AM ET

CNN Money: Rules to double U.S. fuel economy to 54.5 mpg by 2024

CNN Money has a great write-up of new fuel economy standards announced Tuesday by the Obama administration:

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - The Obama administration finalized new fuel economy rules Tuesday that within 12 years will almost double today's standard for cars and light trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon.

The rules, which have been in the works for several years, will add thousands of dollars to the cost of new cars. But in the long run, regulators say, drivers will spend less on gas, outweighing the additional cost at the dealership. They say the rules will also help reduce the nation's oil imports from OPEC by about half.

The standard takes effect in 2024 when 2025 model-year cars begin to hit dealer lots.


If These Walls Could Talk: Installing a direct line to Moscow
President John F. Kennedy announces on television the strategic blockade of Cuba and warns the Soviet Union about missile sanctions during the Cuban missile crisis.
August 27th, 2012
01:09 PM ET

If These Walls Could Talk: Installing a direct line to Moscow

“If These Walls Could Talk” is a weekly look back at the storied history of the White House – from Washington to Obama, from the absurd to the historic.

Washington (CNN) – It took the United States hours to receive and decode Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s 3,000-word détente message to the United States during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. During those tense, incommunicado hours, plans were put into motion that many speculate would have catapulted the United States and a nuclear Soviet Union into all out war.

The USSR’s installment of weapons into Cuba was an eye opening experience for the United States’ military apparatus. Not only did it show how close two superpowers could come to a breaking point, but it proved that direct, codeless communication was essential to peace.

Enter: the Washington-to-Moscow “hotline.”


Topics: White House
If These Walls Could Talk: The night Dolley saved George
August 20th, 2012
06:02 PM ET

If These Walls Could Talk: The night Dolley saved George

“If These Walls Could Talk” is a weekly look back at the storied history of the White House – from Washington to Obama, from the absurd to the historic.

Washington (CNN) – When Dolley Madison was fleeing the White House with George Washington's portrait among her few precious keepsakes, she couldn't have known that her place as a legendary White House figure was being cemented in that moment.

But that event, which happened this week in 1814, has done exactly that. To this day, presidents and politicos alike retell the story of Dolley Madison and the Washington portrait.

With the British marching into Washington during the War of 1812, Dolley, wife of the then-fourth president of the United States, James Madison, decided that instead of retaining the first couple's personal belongings, she wanted to save the iconic full-length portrait of George Washington. While being pressured to leave, Dolley insisted the portrait be saved, frame broken and canvas rolled up before everyone abandoned the White House.

Little did Dolley Madison know the portrait she had saved was actually a copy of the Gilbert Stuart original.


Topics: White House
July 4th, 2012
08:57 AM ET

The politics of presidential vacations in an election year


CNN White House correspondent Dan Lothian reports the Obamas will not be vacationing again in Martha's Vineyard this year. He examines the "optics" of presidential vacations especially in an election year.

What's the salary for White House staff?
June 29th, 2012
05:25 PM ET

What's the salary for White House staff?

It's one of those awkward questions that everyone really wants to know but few want to ask: what's your salary?
Well, if you're a White House employee your salary is public record. Since 1995 the White House has been required to supply Congress with the title and salary of every White House office employee. The list shows the president's top advisors including –Valerie Jarrett, Jack Lew, David Plouffe, Tom Donilon, John Brennan, Jay Carney, Nancy-Ann DeParle, Denis McDonough and Kathryn Ruemmler among others– all top out at $172,200. (here's the complete list)

Topics: White House
June 22nd, 2012
12:13 PM ET

CNNers' favorite "West Wing" moments

What is your favorite moment from NBC’s “The West Wing?”

In an interview with PBS, Aaron Sorkin, the creator of the show, once said that his goal was purely to “captivate you for however long we've asked for your attention.” But in the lead up to “The Newsroom,” Sorkin’s newest show that is set to debut Sunday on HBO, some CNNers began to realize they were still captivated by the fictional portrayal of the building many of us cover on a daily basis, even though “The West Wing” went off the air six years ago.

Do you have a favorite episode, character or moment from “The West Wing?” If so, please share it with us in the comment section below or submit an iReport video including the tag “west_wing.”

Topics: White House
May 28th, 2012
10:44 AM ET

Famous signatures hidden in the White House

Hidden from the public’s eyes, seen only by those with special access, Washington D.C. sits on a treasure trove of unique spots off limits to the average tourist. For instance, a view from the top of the US Capitol building requires special permission. A tour of the Oval Office demands an escort and a secret service agent. Another one of those special spots sits right under the White House press briefing room.

A sign on a door reading “Restricted Area” leads down the stairway to an indoor pool built for President Roosevelt in the 1930’s. The pool was covered up during President Nixon's administration and the press briefing room was built on top of it. Today, the walls of the former pool are filled with hundreds of signatures of journalists and celebrities who have visited this secret place. Autographs include the likes of music legend Bono and actress Sarah Jessica Parker. Bono even drew his face! Baseballer Bernie Williams left his mark, so did former President George H.W. Bush. Other not so famous people, but those with special connections, have left their marks as well.

Topics: Briefing Room • The Buzz • White House
Soccer stars at the White House
President Obama poses with MLS champions LA Galaxy in the East Room of the White House Tuesday. Galaxy's David Beckham is pictured to the right of Mr. Obama (photo credit: Lesa Jansen, CNN)
May 15th, 2012
05:49 PM ET

Soccer stars at the White House

There was some serious star power in the East Room of the White House Tuesday and it had nothing to do with politics. The Major League Soccer champion Los Angeles Galaxy including star players David Beckham, forward Robbie Keane, midfielder Landon Donovan and their team mates were honored by President Obama and dozens of young soccer fans invited to the White House.

Calling them the "Miami Heat of soccer" the president commended the team for their success.

"[T]ogether you pulled off one of the toughest feats in team sports: You lived up to the hype. You combined star power, hard work; it paid off."

The president poked a little fun at David Beckham telling the 36 year old, "I said half his teammates could be his kids."

"We're getting old, David. Although you're holding up better than me," the president laughingly told Beckham.

But he thanked the team for agreeing to stay and talk with children invited to the White House to meet the players.

"As a soccer dad, I know you've inspired a lot of kids. And today you're giving them an experience that they will never forget," the president told them.

After the East Room event, the players joined Michelle Obama and about 60 children invited for the event in the State Dining Room as part of a Let's Move program, the first lady's initiative to instill healthy eating habits in children.

Mrs. Obama said she hoped to hold a soccer clinic outside on the White House lawn but rain forced them inside. She told the kids about the importance of sports and remaining active.

"[W]e want to show kids just like you that there are all kinds of ways to be active, and that being active is also a whole lot of fun. So a lot of what we do while there are soccer drills and things like that going on, we're doing a lot of playing around and laughing, and realizing that that's what being healthy is about. It's not always work; most of the time it's a lot of fun."

She left admonishing the children to "eat your vegetables."

A sentiment that was echoed by star soccer player Beckham who when asked by one child was his favorite food is he hesitated only briefly and answered, carrots!

Topics: President Obama • The Buzz • The Visuals • White House