Obamas Denied Public Housing
Helene Cooper of NYT is trying to make a big deal out of something that rather clearly isn’t. In a story entitled, “Sorry, We’re Booked, White House Tells Obamas,” we’re told “The White House has turned down a request from the family of President-elect Barack Obama to move into Blair House in early January so that his daughters can start school on Jan. 5.”
Bush is president through noon on January 20. Between now and then, Barack Obama, who resigned his Senate seat, is a private citizen. As the story notes, it’s customary for the incoming president and his family to stay at Blair House “the five days before Inauguration Day.” As it turns out, Blair House will in fact be made available to the Obama’s by January 15.
The place has been booked for various receptions which make it unsuitable for use as private living quarters. Presumably, given the way things work in Washington, they were booked way in advance. Given that the Obamas just found out that they had a new gig on November 4 — and decided to put the girls in Sidwell Friends well after that — they probably only inquired about Blair House’s early availability in the last few days.
I’m guessing that the Obamas, who are quite well off financially, can stay in a nice hotel for ten days. Or stay with friends in the District. Hell, there might well be some other swanky government accommodations (say, VIP quarters at Fort McNair or the Navy Yard?) that could be freed up for them.
Indeed, it’s noteworthy that the Obamas aren’t whining about this. “The White House has been extremely accommodating to the Obama family needs — and the entire process has been smooth and friendly,” the transition official said.