Monday, January 19, 2009

Malcolm writes a letter to The Economist:

You say:
The Bushites' co-operativeness contrasts with the childish behaviour of some Clintonites in 2001, who vandalised White House offices as they packed up to leave.
Doesn't that sound awful?

You, presumably, take your version from Tony Snow's lurid imagination: that the White House was a wreck. Air Force One returned from delivering Clinton to New York dismembered:
When the loaned aircraft returned to its hangar at Andrews Air Force Base, it looked as if had been stripped by a skilled band of thieves - or perhaps wrecked by a trailer-park twister. Gone were the porcelain dishes bearing the presidential seal, along with silverware, salt and pepper shakers, pillows, blankets, candies - and even toothpaste. It makes one feel grateful that the seats and carpets are bolted down.
Snow had been a Bush speech-writer and had a syndicated column to fill. To his credit, President Bush denied the claims about the aircraft.

Or you rely perhaps on Andrea Mitchell of NBC News:
Phone lines cut, drawers filled with glue, door locks jimmied so that arriving Bush staff got locked inside their new offices.
Well, all that went into the headlines for a few days of January 2001. By May the story had changed.

Bob Barr, the Georgia Republican Congressman (so no bias there), wanted a full investigation from General Services Administration that heads might roll. Bernard Ungar of the GSA reported that:
The condition of the real property was consistent with what we would expect to encounter when tenants vacate office space after an extended occupancy ... there were papers that were not organized lying on the floor and on desks; there were some scratches here and there, but the bottom line was [the GSA] didn't see anything really in their view that was significant and that would appear to some as real extensive damage.
Doubtless to save Republican faces, arms were twisted and a further investigation was set in motion:
The General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress, said today that ''damage, theft, vandalism and pranks did occur in the White House complex'' in the presidential transition from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush.
The overall cost was itemised:
$9,324 to repair or replace various items and to clean offices.
That included:
  • $78 each for 62 keyboards (many with damaged or missing W keys) and for cellphones;
  • $1,150 for professional cleaning,
  • $3,750 to $4,675 for missing doorknobs, medallions and office signs and a large presidential seal.
More than a hundred White House staff were grilled. Presumably the enquiries cost more than the damage.

Even so, the Bushites were not happy: Alberto Gonzalez (who would, of course, go on to greater things) was demanding more detail, especially of the
graffiti derogatory to Mr. Bush on the wall of a stall in a men's room.
Bradley H. Patterson, a former White House employee, has written a paper, To Serve the President, continuity and innovation in the White House staff (available on-line). He shows that, in the fiscal year 2008, the cost of running the White House was
plus unspecified classified costs (such as Air Force One, Secret Service protection).

Now that does sound awful.

You could have discovered all of this, and more, from a quick trawl of the sources: for example,
Sphere: Related Content

No comments:

Subscribe with Bloglines International Affairs Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Add to Technorati Favorites