Monday, November 10, 2008

Future First Family & A White House Transition

Monday, November 10th is a day of historical significance and import. Michelle Obama will ride with her future president in a chauffeur-driven armored limousine onto the curved drive of State Pl NW to the South Portico of the Executive Mansion. President-Elect & Mrs. Obama will be greeted by the current renters as visiting (pre) heads of state and enter through the Diplomatic Entrance. Cameras galore will memorialize the shot of the first African American woman to enter the White House as a future First Lady and CEO of the East Wing. Already in front of the White House the foundation of the presidential review stand for the parade for the 44th presidency is under construction.

The next formal appearance by Mrs. Obama to the White House is pre-scheduled. She will arrive on the North Portico from Blair House for a sip of tea (calm the stomach) and a ladylike bite (no lipstick messups) of a piece of delish pastry (stay away from anything jelly, crumbly or creme filled). On 20 January, 2009 at about 10:30ish she will get in the backseat of another limo for a ride with Mrs. Bush (who is leaving the White House for the last time as First Lady) to go to her husband's last job site, The United States Capitol. Federal Law says the lawyerly Obamas have to arrive Cinderella-like at least one minute before noon or there is some sort of Constitutional pumpkin crisis.

Michelle, or as her best friend calls her, Meesh, will try to visit or speak with at least three head of elite (in the educational excellence meaning as well as the tony) DC area private schools, stratospheric uppercrust Maret, crayons to ivy league bound seniors Georgetown Day School and Chelsea Clinton's alma mater, Sidwell Friends in DC. My sympathies Malia, (pretty sure the Sorting Hat would say she's a Ravenclaw), there is not a Dumbledore in sight as none of the schools would rank above Hogwarts. She will be just like Harry Potter on the first day of school, all alone, and so famous its eyepopping to the student gawkers. EXPECTO PATRONUM! Heads up, it came right in the end for that Harry chap, even when he continuously made the front page of The Daily Prophet for his legendary indiscretions and exploits. Like Mrs. Weasley, Michelle Obama is weirding out as she participates in the "O" Order while trying to shield her children from the bogarts, dementors and Death Eaters ahead. Wands at the ready!

President Bush & President-Elect Obama will walk across the West Colonnade, (an innovation by
Thomas Jefferson as an elegant way to cover up the stables), and enter the West Wing. Along the route are French doors and windows that lead into a Cabinet Room and the personal secretaries office. The Rose Garden will be on the left and further out on the South Lawn is where Marine One lands to get the president to his even bigger plane or the lush cabins at Camp David. The last time Senator Obama was in the White House was during the early days of the government's financial collapse and a tightly choreographed tableau took place to keep Bush, McCain & Obama from being in the same frame for the pool cameras. The now President-Elect Obama is way on the end. A certain somebody is in his chair now. The discussion about being president should be really great or kind of like the angry moments produced after this image was taken.
There's the White House meeting between the outgoing and incoming commander in chief, usually accompanied by a parallel confab between their spouses. This time it's taking place much sooner than is typical, on Monday, less than a week after Election Day.
What White House spokesman Tony Fratto called "a very special meeting in our democracy" brings the new guy to the White House in a way he never has visited before. Obama will be treated to a tour of his new home and office with the eyes of someone about to move in, and with the man holding the secrets known by only the small club of presidents as his guide.
In other words, Obama will get to hear and see the good stuff: maybe the weapons cache hidden in the West Wing or classified communications capabilities or the instructions for summoning a cup of coffee. The president-elect gets to, in that hackneyed cliche of campaigns, actually measure the drapes.
By the way Barack, the secret is the president always sits in the same chair. Let's pick the Cabinet Room per se. Under the table, where POTUS (President of the United States) sits is a special button that you press and the White House Staff will bring anything from the iced green tea youcrave to an arugula heavy salad. Other folks have to win the big enchilada election to get that kind of service. Pssst, the "mess", run by the Navy, has a secret door to bring dinner if you are in the Sit Room ordering a four star flag officer to, cough, complete a phased withdrawal from Iraq. The one thing Barack will not hear on Monday is the four Ruffles and Flourishes - Highest honor - until he hears Hail to The Chief played just for him on Inauguration Day. President Ford sometimes had his little band, The President's Own, United States Marine Band play the University of Michigan's fight song instead. President-Elect Obama went to mostly brainiac universities, but his love of basketball allows him to use the Chicago Bulls announcer if he wants - .... and NOW 6' 2 ..... give it up for ..... President Barack OOOOOOOOOOHHHHHH - baaaaaaaa - mmmmmmaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!! This visit will help work out the details.

Michelle's transition may be the most difficult
out of everybody's in the Land of Obama. At the end
of the potential 10 years she will invest in America & Barack Obama as president. It is she who will have tomake the most adjustments. Her resistance is seen in the little microscopic details that shall become overblown without her even trying. Michelle already is into the politics of Barack's career for two years worth of hugs, tears, questioning her patriotism, that one major fashion miss with the god-awful designer dress she wore election night and the fierce protection she lovingly provides for her rewards in this life, her little girls.

The next eight years will weigh heavily as the demands of her volunteer role eat at her time. Michelle has a legacy to bequeath, not just for her daughters, but millions of women with her pigmentation and those of other hues from the palest to the darkest. What she chooses to devote her talents to should last well beyond their time in White House as an enduring testament to the nation as something her girls can admire for the rest of their lives, Mommy as role model and modeling in Vogue. Hillary Clinton has set the bar Heaven high with her life post White House. Michelle's influence as First Lady is huge. She will be more photographed than Princess Diana in the coming months, more talked about for her fashion choices and cultural themes for state occasions with no let up. It's important that she is at the White House today to prepare a brief for her immediate life ahead. She's going to need those lucky charms she wears.

Oh and Michelle, there's a little matter of this rug that has to be custom ordered to match the colors inside the Oval Office. Former president's are usually kind enough to leave the old one behind (Bush's is rather muted in a pastel blah southwestern colors starburst) until the one of a kind rug is ready to go atop a beautiful wooden floor in the Obama Oval. Please note that the bald eagle is facing the laurel leaves and not the arrows of war. There's a couple of couches and two chairs that will be on every nightly news program that have to be selected too.

A dress that will be worn only once and end up in an exhibit at the Smithsonian is the First Lady's Inaugural gown. The designer will be chased down for details as soon as The First Lady in Waiting's Press Secretary and Social Secretary (once hired) release the information. Talk about pressure. Add that getting dressed for the event will be the first time the family will have spent any extended time in the Residence of the Executive Mansion. Good thing there's a beauty salon of sorts in the place. Even though Bill Clinton called it, the Crown Jewel of the American Penal System as the Secret Service has rules for everybody, family and guest alike, it is important to understand the budget and the details to running a residence and a White House social agenda. Add a puppy, kids needing a rescue as they get lost in the place in a raucous game of hide and seek, Hannah Montana premiers in the White House theatre and its the continuance of a great American story starring the wonderful Obamas.

Sasha's first impromptu press conference ought to be a hoot. After all, Caroline Kennedy gave hers when she was 5. Besides Sasha, as a smaller tyke when her father was being sworn into the US senate with her mom looking on, got Dick Cheney to high-five her in the old senate chamber.

Already, Michelle has a Chief Usher hired by the ultra efficient Secret Service. She will receive a Giant book that allows her and the girls to choose suites of antique to more modern furniture for Sasha & Malia's rooms as well as the private spaces in the residences. The antiques in the state rooms are priceless. After her tour a sense of history and about 100,000 more square feet of space than she is accustomed to plus the enormity of the details and a lack of time will have her focused on this move. Will the girls bedrooms be on the same floor as her and Barack's or will they be upstairs near the Solarium where they can let loose? Michelle's Mom's choice of where to live in DC will weigh heavily in that decision. The dog will get loose at some point too - See Barney and his latest snippy interaction with the nosy petting press. A new tradition comes to the White House, but first they have to see how to run the place before its all official next year.

The First Couple, Renegade & Renaissance, will walk into the pages of History, together.

A great book, America's First Families: An inside View of 200 Years of Private Life in the White House, is from the quintessential historical chronicler of First Ladies, Carl Sferrazza Anthony. Their stories are one of a kind, yet uniquely American. They get the best of America's treasures as a president's offspring or spouse and then it all magically disappears like clockwork at the incoming administration's next inauguration as part of our Democracy.

This post is part of Mind Sorbet's Transition Series - for Barack Obama's presidency. Hi Mom, hope you are enjoying!
(Posts are chronological)

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