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Getting Acquainted With The White House

Early Show - Challenges Barack Obama Faces - Jan. 21, 2009
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So, you show up for your first day on a brand-new job -- but that job happens to be in the White House.

What's it like?

A description given on The Early Show Wednesday by Dee Dee Myers, a CBS News consultant and former Clinton press secretary, was one anyone could relate to!

"The first thing is, most people have never spent a lot of time before they go for their first day at work," Myers told co-anchor Harry Smith. "So, you've gotta find your office, figure out how to log onto your computer, figure out where the restroom is, (and) all while, you feel this kind of building sense of responsibility like, 'Oh, my goodness, we are in charge now!' And you really want to serve that new president as well as you can. You want to accept that responsibility and get going to work."

President Obama's new press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said Tuesday he didn't even know what his new e-mail address is, Smith pointed out.

"Right," Myers agreed. "And they were operating off temporary e-mail addresses and trying to figure out how to get a hold of their colleagues and trying to figure out what they do first.

"And then you leave and go out, and you sort of have one foot in the (inaugural) balls, but you have one foot back in the office as you're trying to be ready for the first day.

"And they come in with a huge agenda. The president's gonna meet with his economic advisers (Wednesday), he's gonna meet with the National Security Council, as well as some of his commanders (in Washington) and some of the commanders out in the field in both Iraq and Afghanistan by teleconference. And (Tuesday), the stock) markets dropped a historic amount for a president's first day. So, the president wakes up with the banking crisis, the economic crisis, two wars; it's time to get to work."

Myers added, "You want to move forward with the staff, you want to implement the president's agenda, but you don't want to make any mistakes early on that become THE story. It's a difficult line to walk.

"But certainly there is a lot of pent-up demand for a new direction, so we'll start to see that new direction right away with the economy, things like an executive order to begin the closing of Guantanamo, to begin the drawdown of forces in Iraq and switch the focus to Afghanistan. I think the president wants to continue that theme, move forward. What an amazing time!"