With the pageantry almost behind him, Barack Obama comes to work for the first full day Wednesday to face problems both foreign and domestic.
And his staff just hopes to figure out the computers.
Obama wraps up the inaugural festivities Wednesday morning with a prayer service at the National Cathedral, and later invites selected members of the public into a White House open house.
Obama also is planning to meet with his economic team to discuss plans for an $800 billion stimulus package, and his Joint Chiefs of Staff and other Iraqi advisers to begin charting a course out of that country for U.S. troops, his aides said.
Still, most Obama aides are not expected in until the relatively leisurely hour of 9 a.m. Few went to work Tuesday, effectively their last day of freedom before the crushing demands of the job set in.
“It’s my final night of liberty,” one aide said Tuesday night who, like many of his colleagues, planned on hitting some of the inaugural balls.
Obama conducted only a little official business Tuesday, formally nominating his Cabinet secretaries – seven of whom were approved by Senate acclimation. His chief of staff Rahm Emanuel signed an order putting a halt to President George W. Bush’s last-minute regulations until further review – in much the way Bush’s chief of staff Andrew Card halted Bill Clinton’s “midnight regs” in 2001.
The Bush administration proposed one rule allowing concealed weapons to be carried in some national parks. Another would block federal funding for medical facilities that refuse to hire anti-abortion doctors, whose opposition to the procedure stemmed from religious grounds.
Obama is also expected to sign one high-profile executive order this week – to order the closing of Guantanamo Bay, even though the closing date is unclear.
And Press Secretary Robert Gibbs plans his first press briefing at mid-day Wednesday, after a morning of staff meetings and logistical obligations for a staff that is still relying on “Gmail” addresses.
Gibbs and his deputy Bill Burton showed up in the briefing room a few times Tuesday – but early in the day, Gibbs admitted he was still trying to figure out how to sign onto his computer. A card placed on each computer says “Welcome,” and includes the number for the facilities department if the user has any difficulties.
Gibbs said staffers are expected to be let in at about 9 a.m. Wednesday but most will be busy for about two hours in mandatory briefings. He didn’t say the subject matters, but such briefings usually cover ethics, security and espionage issues.