Sally Quinn at The Washington Post explores why there was no room at Bush’s inn for the Obamas. She concludes that it’s just doggone hard to give up power. I conclude that it’s because Bush is a small, mean, petty person who has quite naturally surrounded himself with other small, petty people. The whole sorry episode is the type of thing you have to expect when rich white trash winds up in the White House:
But Blair House is huge. It’s not one house but four houses put together. The federal government bought the house from the Blair estate in 1942 and connected the adjoining Lee house in 1943. The two closest houses to those were bought in 1969-70 and connected as well. So Blair House now has 119 rooms and is 70,000 square feet. It’s larger than the White House. And yet there was no room at the inn for the Obama family.
You might ask: What is this really about?
Here’s the back story. John Howard was a member of George Bush’s coalition of the willing in Iraq. Howard is no friend of Barack Obama’s. When Obama announced for the presidency, he proposed legislation that would withdraw troops by March 2008; Howard responded by saying, “If I were running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and be praying as many times as possible for a victory not only for Obama but also for the Democrats.” Obama responded that it was “flattering that one of George Bush’s allies on the other side of the world” had attacked him.
Howard was about as unpopular in Australia when he lost his last election (and still is) as Bush is in the United States right now. The Australian press has gone crazy over the Blair House story in a way that the U.S. press has not, saying that Howard should have offered to stay elsewhere.
The unavailability of Blair House means that the Obamas will have to move three times in three weeks, adding an additional disruption for two young girls already in an incredibly pressured situation. Not only that, but the expense of staying at the Hay-Adams Hotel was considerable, as was the added expense and trouble of having to secure the hotel and its environs by the Secret Service. All of this so that Howard and his wife could have 119 rooms to themselves (including living rooms, sitting rooms, dining rooms and kitchens) for one night?
Why couldn’t the Howards have stayed at their country’s embassy, as Tony Blair did at his? Why couldn’t the reception have been held at the State Department? The White House could easily have made these things happen.