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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

It's a tough life

I'm really trying to get up the requisite sympathy for those poor White House press pool reporters trying to keep up with the president-elect. Heaven knows we wouldn't want another Waikiki-Gate.

It seems Barack Obama gave his press pool the slip yesterday and enjoyed some time -- in peace -- with his daughters at a Hawaiian amusement park.

When the pack finally caught up with the Obamas, they dutifully recorded his sandwich choice (tuna melt on 12-grain, natch). Obama wasn't above ribbing Washington Post pooler Phillip Rucker for his attention to detail about the First Lunch.

Obama was gracious in offering his traveling tormentors shaved ice to cool off, although the pool upheld journalistic ethics by refusing the gift.

The pool is a strange experience. The "body watch" -- often known as the "death watch" is there for one reason and one reason alone.

I did one body watch -- a visit by then vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro for a speech on City Hall Plaza. Along with my Associated Press counterpart, we were stationed on the Logan tarmac awaiting her arrival. Then we piled into buses and, with sirens shrieking -- made a record-time trip through the Sumner Tunnel, then tagged along as she worked her way through the Secret Service cordon to the stage.

Because nothing befouled the trip, we were forced to retreat to the already crowded risers and join the peons, er, our colleagues for the speech. Many in the traveling contingent were probably hearing it for the 100th time.

The big difference between pooling in Crawford Texas and Waikiki is, well if if have to explain...

So naturally, reporters who once slogged through the snows of Iowa and now find themselves in sunnier climes need to make excuses. Said NBC's Savannah Guthrie:

"There's a perception that in between live shots we're sipping umbrella drinks and fanning ourselves and diving into the ocean," she says. "But actually I spend most of my time in my hotel room working on stories."

Someone needs a life. My advice? Enjoy it while you can. Today Hawaii. Tomorrow Kabul.

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