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WH Tells Obamas, No Room at the Blair House

By Dan Eggen
The Bush administration has denied President-elect Barack Obama's request to move early into an official guest house across from the White House, citing previously scheduled commitments, a transition official said today.

The Obamas wanted to move into Blair House before Jan. 5, so that daughters Malia and Sasha could start classes on time at Sidwell Friends School in Washington. "But there were previously scheduled events and guests that couldn't be displaced," said a transition spokesperson, who agreed to be quoted only on condition of anonymity.

Sally McDonough, a spokeswoman for first lady Laura Bush, said in a statement that Blair House will be "available to President-elect Obama and his family starting January 15, as is historically the case." Prior to that, McDonough said, "should he need to use it for a meeting or such he can certainly request it and the transition office will check its availability."

She said that in addition to presidential guests, Blair House "is frequently used by White House officials, the State Department and its Office of Protocol for various events."

McDonough declined to say what events had been booked at the house. Administration officials said there are no foreign dignitaries scheduled to stay there during the first two weeks of January, but some farewell events have been booked for departing Bush administration officials.

Transition officials say the Obamas hope to find temporary housing until Jan. 15 so the girls can start school on time.

The Chicago Sun-Times first reported on the White House action on Wednesday.

Blair House, which dates to 1824, has served as the official presidential guest house since 1942 for heads of state and other foreign dignitaries. Appearing deceptively small from Pennsylvania Avenue, Blair House is actually a complex of four joined townhouses that is larger than the White House, with 119 rooms and 70,000 square feet of space.

"There are 14 guest bedrooms, eight staff bedrooms, 35 bathrooms, four dining rooms, kitchen facilities, laundry and dry cleaning facilities, an exercise room, a flower shop, and a fully equipped hair salon," according to the Blair House Web site. "Blair House strives to be comfortable, discreet and secure, and to provide any service that a visiting dignitary might require."

Posted at 6:53 PM ET on Dec 12, 2008  | Category:  Transition
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Comments

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I said it early I'll say it again, President Elect Obama is being disgracefully disrespected by these people. Bush et. al.

As an African American, their actions hit home in ways you would not understand unless you too have faced racism first-hand as it was dealt by faces smiling sweetly while they treat you as something less than a man.

I have seen this too many times in my 50+ years on this earth. And one thing I know for sure:

You can put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig.

I'm tired of this crap and I WILL speak out when I see it. I care little if you agree with me or not.

The audacity they display in doing this to the Leader of the Free World, and to all Americans by extension should not go unchallenged.

I don't hope or even care about reaching and convincing the Obama haters out there but those inclined otherwise should pay attention.

Now is the time for all good men to deliver on the promise of change for their country.

ACTUALLY THE TIME IS OVERDUE!

Posted by: jaayquan | December 17, 2008 3:11 PM

ap74:

President-elect Bush spent two (2) nights at Blair House before his inauguration -- it is available starting January 15th -- so please don't preach "time honored tradition" to me. Once Obama is President of the United States, he can stay wherever he wants to stay : )

Posted by: JakeD | December 15, 2008 5:34 PM

For me, this article is less about the President Elect's "elitism," or even allegations of "thinly veiled" racism. That the President Elect resides at Blair House prior to his/her inauguration is a time honored tradition in this country. Furthermore, President Elect Obama is exactly that: the President Elect of the United States of America. I would think that every accommodation could/would/should be made for incoming President and most powerful elected official on the planet. The Obama's request to check-in early so there children can start school seems like a reasonable request.

But never mind the optics, the reasons, and accusations of elitism, race and other window dressing. The man is set to be the President and he cannot get a reservation!! Why the White House cannot accommodate President Elect Obama and his family is distasteful, disrespectful, and uncivil. Surely there is no person staying at Blair House more important than the incoming President. And I am doubly sure that between the Blair House and the White House equally lovely accommodations can be found for any one inconvenienced...for the President of the US! I cannot believe this occurred and if I was in charge of the Protocol office, someone would lose their job over this. Truly tacky. We are better than this.

Posted by: ap74 | December 15, 2008 4:46 PM

From the story:

"McDonough declined to say what events had been booked at the house" but officials confirmed their were guests and events previously booked. Again, I am not sure what the whole outrage is about?

Posted by: JakeD | December 15, 2008 1:45 PM

"Discourtesy"?! You think they are LYING about events and guests already booked?

Posted by: JakeD | December 14, 2008 6:16 PM

Well, this is just Bush discourtesy - a small addition to the 8 years of destruction his administration caused our country and the world. Hey, George and Laura- goodbye and good riddance.

Posted by: AndrearKline | December 14, 2008 1:45 PM

thaimex:

Truman stayed there even longer than Reagan, so? I trust Randell Bumgardner is not lying about previously-scheduled events. The One needs to make other arrangements.

Posted by: JakeD | December 14, 2008 9:23 AM

Colbert Report Video of the Night:

From the Lipman Times (The new 24/7 Obama news site--very cool)

Rod Blagojevich's Birthday:

http://www.lipmantimes.com/?p=877

Posted by: caraprado1 | December 14, 2008 7:40 AM

The Bush transition team so far has been quite gracious. I find this particular behavior odd, but I can't know the motivations or bureaucratic inertia behind it. As long as the new administration is granted sufficient and sincere access to the government agencies proper, this is merely odd, and nothing to raise a snit about.

Posted by: nodebris | December 14, 2008 1:03 AM

Amy2009, are you some sort of parody made up by John Stewart or Colbert?

Because your message is exactly the sort of thing a Democrat would make up if they wanted to mock Republicans.

Posted by: nodebris | December 14, 2008 12:59 AM

As usual, most of the comments are uninformed. According to the article -- and other press reports -- there are no visiting dignitaries for that time. The reported conflict is to allow full range for previously scheduled holiday and farewell parties for unnamed "staff": perhaps the OMB and VP folks who have done so well in rescuing the auto industry?

Since Blair House has a few less than 20 bedrooms and a fulltime staff, which I understand accomodated the Reagans for a full 20 days prior to that inauguration, it seems that W, or perhaps Cheney, is indulging one last snit. Just one more reason we will be so much better off without them.

Posted by: thaimex | December 14, 2008 12:56 AM

Oh God this is soooooo funny so did things
start getting too hot in Chicago and the
fake Office of the President Elect for our
outsourced to Kenya,as people call him now,
Messiah Barack Hussein Obama,or did that sleazy crooked total corrupt Obama want to
try to escape from US Attorney and New Eliot Ness The Untouchable Patrick Fitizgerald's Long Arm of the Law coming after Obama with handcuffs and chains and
legirons in hand? Since the only place that
Barack Hussein Obama belongs is in a Federal Jail Cell and not Blair House or
the White House! Thank God for US Attorney
Patrick Fitzgerald and I pray daily for
Fitzgerald's safety from crooks like Obama.

Posted by: Amy2009 | December 13, 2008 3:32 PM

THIS IS ?.....

SO WHAT - THE PLACE IS BOOKED. Happens to us all.

Obama could have but didn't insist and insult a visiting dignitary in the process. The current admin is finding an alternate solution.

All is well.

LETS NOT manufacture A POLITICAL INCIDENT...


Posted by: macdoodle1 | December 13, 2008 2:33 PM

You don't actually think that Obama has a right to stay at Blair House, do you? Why not just move into the White House early then?

Posted by: JakeD | December 13, 2008 1:45 PM

toritto:

Retirement in our golden years is well deserved.

Posted by: JakeD | December 13, 2008 1:07 PM

Toritto-

You hit the nail on the head.

It's interesting that Reagan publicly admired FDR for his ability to get the nation mobilized, because Reagan has been the single most effective advocate in the destruction of FDR's legacy of social justice and economic prosperity.

Posted by: rooster54 | December 13, 2008 12:20 PM

Bank of America and Mr. Higgins missing $millions, It can happen to you, my fellow Americans


More info: http://mrhigginsbank.blogspot.com/

Posted by: srmaxhiggins | December 13, 2008 12:09 PM

Lets see:

Whne Reagan was elected to his first term in 1980 the U. S. was the world's largest manufacturer, the largest exporter of finished goods, the world's largest creditor and the largest importer of raw material.

Now we are the world's largest exporter of raw material and the world's greatest debtor.

Its been a great 28 years.

Posted by: toritto | December 13, 2008 11:30 AM

Bank of America and Mr. Higgins missing $millions, It can happen to you, my fellow Americans


More info: http://mrhigginsbank.blogspot.com/

Posted by: srmaxhiggins | December 13, 2008 11:15 AM

This is like being "unable" to find quarters at the Radisson.

Nasty smallness is all.

Just a few more days of small-mindedness, folks.

Posted by: T-Prop | December 13, 2008 11:11 AM

The way I see it, this is in keeping with Bush Policy, No Child Left Behind and No Child Allowed to get Ahead. Didn't Bush BRAG about the fact that he was a C student? I don't thing I don't think the Obamas should move to any of the Bush's former residences without having a chance to fumigate and air out the place first anyway. Who needs that kind of stench on 'em? BYE BUSH! IT'S BEEN A A NIGHTMARE!!!!! Don't let the door hit ya

Posted by: bebrave | December 13, 2008 10:04 AM

Let's see Michelle Obama grew up in a one bedroom attic apt, shared the bedroom with her brother til they went to college, and PRESIDENT ELECT OBAMA's grandfather was a furniture salesman and his mother was on food stamps. Elite?!! Sounds more like motivated to me! But all you right wing Haters are going to have to get over yourselves. I know it seems hard to believe right now but...YOU WON! Bush is gone you've all been marginalized and embarrassed by his presidency and their is a new sheriff in town. Trust me Youse guys won too! Enjoy the next 4 years. You're not going to BELIEVE how well America can actually be!

Posted by: bebrave | December 13, 2008 9:59 AM

"Racism"?! I was simply playing off the headline and "no room at the inn" comment. For the record, I completely support a different African-American, Alan Keyes, so I'm not sure how that makes me a "racist".

Posted by: JakeD | December 13, 2008 8:19 AM

So as not to disturb the Bushies, the Obamas could use the back door and huddle together in one of the servant bedrooms.

Posted by: rue_dee | December 13, 2008 2:31 AM

President Elect Obama (his proper title) is...

No, he is not the president elect. The Electoral College had not yet meet and voted on who will be the president elect.

Now, if you want to say he is the presumptive president elect....

Posted by: nonamehere | December 12, 2008 11:25 PM

To Dave27, your posting is disingenuous, as anyone with half a brain will discover by clicking on the link you provided.

Posted by: mcrudup96 | December 12, 2008 10:56 PM

HemiHead66: You're right about Bush. He's bankrupted this country... no argument there. But, neither Obama nor Bush worked very hard for his cash... Just wait until Rezko plays out and we see more.

jaayquan: The difference between Obama and the other 800 families attending Sidwell is that the other 800 families are not costing me a thing. Obama will raise all of our taxes. Don't believe the lie about $250,000/year. If Pelosi sends him a bill raising taxes on earners at $100,000 do you think he will veto it? Not a chance! Not to mention what all his green initiatives will cost us.

And by the way, Jaayquan don't read into any racism. My friend... you don't know me or my skin. Try to get past your knee-jerk emotions.

Posted by: ray1968 | December 12, 2008 10:00 PM

These comments about elitism seemed to be reserved exclusively for Obama. As far as I am aware they were first brought up by the McCain camp. Now these people with no original thoughts in their small brains repeat this ad nauseum. Get over it guys! Obama is soon to be your President. He has a huge responsibility way beyond yours (hemihead66) and deserves your support. I guess the problem you are having is that a black man shouldnt deserve good treatment right? Gosh you guys are like whining schoolskids. Grow up!

Posted by: davidnwatermeyer | December 12, 2008 9:30 PM

Let him stay in the WH then.

Posted by: stevepj | December 12, 2008 9:26 PM

raye1968 and JakeD, you people sicken me. Your thinly veiled racicism is reeking and obvious for all the world to see.

ray1968 why don't you just "use "uppity" insead of "privileged" or "elitism"? That is afterall what you mean, isn't it? The way you put it, President Elect Obama (his proper title) is the only one rich enough to send his children to that school. Why no mention about the 800 other families going there?

You jealous of them too?

Posted by: jaayquan | December 12, 2008 9:23 PM

Posted by: ray1968
The complete hypocrisy of Obama and the news media is stunning. Rather than focus on his total elitism, the press made hay of the fact that the Bushes couldn’t let them move in early because the Blair House had previous reserved plans.
======================
Ya know, I don't see the Obama family sucking up our tax dollars like the war profiteering Bush family. The Obama's worked for every dime they have, unlike our lame duck president that never worked a day in his life.

Posted by: HemiHead66 | December 12, 2008 8:53 PM

So much for being in touch with the common folks

I knew from my life down in Montgomery County that Sidwell is expensive, but just how expensive?

The lower school, Kindergarten to 6th grade, is $28,443 per year. The upper school, grades 7-12 is $29,442 per year.

So if I were as privileged as the Obama’s [read: rich] [imply: complete hypocrites], it would cost $199,094 to complete elementary school and an additional $176,626 for middle and high school… assuming tuition does not rise during the 13 years of attendance for a grand total of $375,746. But alas, I have two children as does Obama. Sending both kids to Sidwell will cost $751,492. None of which is tax deductible. At least his children are not starting Kindergarten like mine are.

The complete hypocrisy of Obama and the news media is stunning. Rather than focus on his total elitism, the press made hay of the fact that the Bushes couldn’t let them move in early because the Blair House had previous reserved plans.

Get ready for the next four years of hypocrisy, double-speak, elitism, and guilt

Posted by: ray1968 | December 12, 2008 8:21 PM

... and Bush is moving back to a "white only" block in Dallas. Yes, that is right. The home owners association in the block that Bush is moving to, has a clause that forbids non-white people buying houses in that block. This country certainly is ready for non-white President, but I guess the Bushs are not!!!
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/us_world/2008/12/09/2008-12-09_president_bushs_new_dallas_neighborhood_.html

Posted by: Dave27 | December 12, 2008 8:16 PM

The Messiah will have to sleep some where else ; )

Posted by: JakeD | December 12, 2008 7:41 PM

Is this what they say: No Room At The Inn?

Posted by: steviana | December 12, 2008 7:33 PM

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