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The President’s Typical Day in Washington, D.C.

Excerpted from How Washington Actually Works For Dummies

What does the president do in a typical day in Washington, D.C., — if such a thing exists? These days, you can actually check the president’s official schedule on the White House website. (Ain’t technology grand?)

The president’s official day begins with the President’s Daily Brief, which is a highly classified document prepared by the Director of National Intelligence. It provides the president with sensitive intelligence on international matters and events. The material is available to other very senior officials on a strictly need-to-know basis.

The president then moves into a series of meetings or events. Often, this part of his day includes a briefing by one of his Cabinet officers or White House staff. He may also have meetings with White House staff and congressional leaders concerning the President’s legislative strategy.

Most days also involve delivering remarks to one or more groups of citizens — everything from a roundtable of educators on raising high school performance, to business people on American competitiveness, to a thank-you to volunteers who responded to a natural disaster.

Various press events also are part of the schedule — not just formal, prime time presidential press conferences, but also press scrums at which he can deliver a quick message to the public on an individual issue or respond quickly to some press story. Other press events may include congratulating the winning World Series or Super Bowl team.

Other important events include meetings with foreign leaders, which may include hosting a state dinner (or taking the Russian president to a local hamburger joint, which President Obama did in 2010).

The president’s out-of-town schedule is usually grueling. It runs the gamut from official visits to important allied countries, to participation in international meetings such as the United Nations General Assembly each fall, to political events in key states.

While all presidents seek to control their schedules, the sheer enormity of the issues that tend to hit the Oval Office all at once turns him into a firefighter of sorts.

Imagine a day in which the president must deal with an intelligence report of a planned terrorist attack, a crisis in the Middle East, dire financial news from Europe, a domestic hot-button issue like healthcare legislation, looming budget and national debt issues . . . Such crises all have to be dealt with pretty much at the same time, and each of them is very important and difficult.

It’s easy to understand why self-imposed (and perhaps therapeutic) presidential duties such as throwing out the first baseball on opening day work their way onto the schedule as well.

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