This Week In Pool Reports

Another week on the road for the poolers, and hilarious antics ensue. Ron Hutcheson is everywhere, Bush is looking “squintier” than normal, AF1 encounters some technical difficulties and Mark Silva ventures into food reviews.

  • “We had scrambled eggs and cheese for our first meal, with pieces of corned beef-like meat in thick gravy over toast, Served with, what else? Hawaiian Punch. The doctor clearly does not consult with the dietician. For an encore, we had steak, cooked medium rare (perfect) and boiled shrimp (nice), scallops (chewy) in a creamy sauce (thick), mashed taters with red skins (divine), with a garden salad (crisp), for dinner. Cherry chocolate cake (get me a dentist) for dessert. We had movies. We had basketball. We had a ball, all in all.” — Mark Silva, Chicago Tribune

  • “POTUS Breakfast: A biscuit slathered with sausage gravy, some scrambled eggs (which the president slopped to the edge of his plate), some home-fried potatoes and a slice of cooked ham. Your pool ate the same meal. Yummy. Cholesterol level spiking.” — Joseph Curl, Washington Times

  • “There was a semi-dramatic but ultimately uneventful departure from Bogor. The press pool was told that because of the security concerns, there would be no lighting in the helicopter landing zone and the pilots would be flying wearing night-vision goggles. As a result, we boarded our helicopter in a darkened field, Marine One invisible to us, and the way to our chopper illuminated only by flashlights pointed to the ground. The area was surrounded by heavily armed troops.” — Michael Fletcher, Washington Post
  • “We also got more information on the AF1 tire issue. A malfunction in the aircraft’s automatic braking system generated sufficient heat to activate a safety feature that blew out the tire valves. The feature is designed to avoid a tire blowout. Six tires lost their valves, which, of course, resulted in six flat tires.” — Ron Hutcheson, McClatchy Newspapers


  • “The drums started it off. The president and the first lady emerged from the museum down a walkway flanked by drums — five on their right, eight on their left and five more across the street in front of them. The drums were bright red. The drummers, all young men or boys, wore bright red-and-gold tunics, with pants of the same colors. They wielded shiny gold sticks. The drummers started banging shortly before Bush and the first lady exited the museum. The couple stopped at the end of the walkway and watched the show with Le Hoang Quang, the chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee. After a percussion performance, the drummers were joined by flag wavers, whose exuberant display was a similar to a drill team halftime show. Then four dragons joined the crowd of performers. Two boys hid inside each of the brightly colored, sequined dragons. They snaked through the flag wavers. Bush, who seemed to enjoy the spectacle, nodded and tapped his foot, more or less to the beat.” — Hutcheson

  • “No gaggle on the flight, but Joe Hagin came back briefly with a couple of glasses and an unopened bottle of Vietnamese snake elixir. The amber liquid bathed a cobra-like snake with a scorpion in its mouth. No one took him up on the offer of a taste.” — Hutcheson

  • “As the session broke up, the Secret Service got a little edgy when a Vietnamese photographer lost his flash, which clattered to the floor. They got even edgier when he jumped over a lab table to retrieve it, but the incident ended peacefully.” — Hutcheson

  • “President Bush banged the gong three times at about 9:30 a.m. to open the second trading session of the morning. (Sorry, no info on when the first one started). The traders and stock exchange staff members stood and applauded when Bush entered the room, He walked directly to the gong. The scene was more like an insurance office than the New York Stock Exchange. About 30 traders sat in front of computer monitors, which were enclosed in blonde wood consoles — three monitors per console. They wore identical blue vests with yellow numbers on the back, presumably to identify their securities firms. They worked beneath a giant trading screen, similar to the kind used by financial shows.” — Hutcheson

  • “The president seemed engaged, but he fiddled with a pen as he led the discussion. He brightened when Binh Nguyen of FedEx mentioned that he had lived in Amarillo and Midland-Odessa. ‘Did you hear that — Amarillo…And Midland-Odessa,’ Bush said.” — Hutcheson

  • “POTUS talked about the ‘long march’ yesterday of Vietnamese history. Your pool knows whereof he speaks, although in American it might be ‘The Long Schlepp.’ After idling in the pool vans for an hour seeking to bypass Vietnamese constraints on freedom of wireless information and weighing the retrospect benefits of Motorcade One versus Motorcade Two, at 9.15pm we set forth to the Tib Restaurant. It was festooned with fairy lights. Outside a line of the handpicked employees were hustled into photo-op, background material. Three waiters in black ties and yellow shirts stood next to women in traditional Vietnamese dress. The stress was too much for the manager, who reached for a cigarette and puffed away in line awaiting the presidential double-act of POTUS and John Howard, prime minister of Australia, POA.” — Caroline Daniel, Financial Times

  • “No news from the bilat, unless you count saying the Russian WTO accession is ‘good for the U.S., good for Russia,’ qualifies as news. If you do, drop off in Hawaii. You need some beach time.” — Daniel

  • “Fresh from the ritual humiliation of the funny-shirt shots, the two leaders seemed deep in their own thoughts, not each other’s. They both looked a bit Hanoi-ed: Mr. Putin had a film of sweat on his face; POTUS, shadows under his eyes. They exuded bored impatience, as the boilerplate statements were read out. During POTUS’s remarks, Mr. Putin hardly looked at him, preferring to inspect his own feet. He tapped his foot, fiddled with his fingers. POTUS returned the favor, looking at his own waist, and unbuttoning his jacket, fiddling with the chair, as the Russian spoke.” — Daniel

  • “The Hanoi Daewoo Hotel may be five star luxury but it was a zoo. Although the word zoo fails to capture the unrestrained violence that can ensue when too many photographers are crammed into a small room. The pool wasn’t so much ushered into the room as physically rammed into it. Chinese security guards who had been trying to pull back the White House pool, made the scrum worse by allowing Chinese reporters to surge in behind us. They blocked the route of Condoleezza Rice and Steven Hadley, who were stuck outside, before secret service cleared a path through the human Red Sea.” — Daniel

  • “Obviously unable to agree on the theological trade offs, in practice that translated into a service which was 90 per cent singing. There was no sermon. No remarks in English. There were two words I was able to translate from Vietnamese: ‘Alleluia,’ and ‘Amen’, (which are the same in Vietnamese: I wasn’t suddenly speaking in tongues). There was no Communion by the communists.” — Daniel

  • “At the end POTUS walked down the aisle with one of the pastors, saying ‘thank you’ and ‘good,’ as he walked down. (Blue suit, red tie). He was followed by FLOTUS and Condoleezza Rice. Outside, he shook hands with the choir — a sea of white silk and yellow shoulders. One little boy in a shirt, worn over a stripey top, seemed confused at the idea of a handshake (or perhaps just simply didn’t want to shake POTUS’s hand. His mother behind him lifted up both of his stiff arms, and POTUS shook that.” — Daniel

  • “Just Nutz: The name of the bar in the basement of the hotel where the president is staying, the place where the pool held until rolling with the motorcade to the APEC banquet.” — Silva

  • “The president of Vietnam rose to give his welcoming remarks. He did it in Vietnamese, which lost me. Then he came around with a really tall white wine glass and he toasted each of the leaders one by one, clink clink clink, across the long white table with bouquets of yellow flowers at each place. Bush’s glass was really full, but it appeared FLOTUS had been working on hers.” — Silva

  • “Look not here for news, lonely souls, lest your searching heart be rended, and thee die. Seriously, zippy the chimp all around, even on color. Click the little red ‘X’ at the upper right to return to your shabby little lives. But if you were out shopping on Hang Gai Street, your pooler will heave up what he has consumed in a most frank and full way.” — Joseph Curl, Washington Times

  • “The president displayed a few beads of sweat as he stood in the hot sun, and he was a bit squintier than usual (which is hard to achieve).” — Curl