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The Purell presidency

By Brian Williams, Anchor and managing editor

I was reminded by reading Bill Sammon's piece last night (and several since, all calling attention to Obama's own account of his first meeting with President Bush) that there is another first about this Presidential transition: Bush and Obama are two men of the hand sanitizer generation. Both have become dependent upon, if not addicted to, the vaguely slippery, slightly gelatinous liquid which has become the staple liquid...the nectar of life...for those who shake hands for a living and wish to avoid germs...and thus its become the coin of the realm in modern politics. When I covered President Clinton, hand sanitizers had yet to be perfected -- but because his Agents and Physician were horrified to occasionally see the President eating, with his hands, after shaking hundreds of hands, they invented a pre-moistened foam cylinder that they kept in the limousine. The size of a track and field baton, he would use it in lieu of washing his hands in a sink -- the same theory behind Purell and other later, more portable products. While the President has ushers and valets who are always nearby with hand sanitizer, Obama aide Reggie Love is informally known as the "keeper of the Purell" in the traveling germfest that has been the Obama campaign. Kudos to Bill Sammon for reminding us not only of the first time these two men met...but also the role hand sanitizer played!

Today marked Obama's first visit to the Oval Office, and his first ride in one of the Washington-based fleet of Presidential limousines. Because of the urgency of this transition period (owing to the economic crisis) he is getting a view of the trappings -- and a clear-eyed view of the challenges of office -- earlier than most.

Our coverage of the transition continues tonight -- we have a great broadcast that includes a never-before-seen glimpse of World War II combat footage. We hope you can join us as we start off a new week.