Trainspotter 0 Posted January 22, 2009 Share #1 Posted January 22, 2009 WASHINGTON - President Obama took command on his first full day in the White House on Wednesday, moving swiftly and firmly to steer the ship of state in a dramatic new direction. From the moment Obama stepped into the Oval Office at 8:35 a.m., he moved at a breakneck pace to undo George W. Bush's unpopular domestic policies, reach out to foreign leaders and bring more transparency to his administration. And that was just by lunchtime. Obama and Vice President Biden also hosted their first high-stakes huddle in the White House's vaunted Situation Room and convened their economic kitchen cabinet to jump-start America's engine. "What an opportunity we have to change this country," said the new commander in chief, who stuck with tradition by attending a morning prayer service for the incoming President at the National Cathedral. The nation's first black President began the first workday of the new era with 10 minutes of solitude in the Oval Office, reading a private note left by George W. Bush: "To: #44, From: #43." And then he went about breaking from Dubya's ways. He ordered Guantanamo Bay military prosecutors to cease cases against 21 accused terrorists, and aides circulated a draft of an executive order that would close the detention facility within a year. Obama is expected to sign the document today. And he reached out to the troubled Middle East, speaking to the leaders of Egypt and Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama's phone calls were meant to convey his "commitment to active engagement in pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace from the beginning of his term." Gibbs said Obama vowed to work to solidify the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The President plans to appoint former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-Maine), a veteran mediator who helped bring peace to Northern Ireland, as a special envoy to the region. As Obama got down to work, his cabinet began to fill up. Hillary Clinton was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate, 94-2, to be secretary of state. She took the oath of office at 5:29 p.m. And his choice to run the Treasury Department, Timothy Geithner, emerged largely unscathed Wednesday from a confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill. The Senate approved six of Obama's cabinet picks on Inauguration Day, including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Obama followed through on his campaign pledge to bring more transparency to the White House, signing two executive orders and three memos that set new ethics guidelines for his team. BY KENNETH R. BAZINET DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU January 21st 2009 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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