October 4, 2013. Washington. The White House is over 200 years old and not the best building in America when it comes to keeping vermin out. But one would think that the most powerful man in the richest country in the world could stop cockroaches, rats and mice from taking over his home. Carter had mice. Bush had rats. And Obama has cockroaches.
A scene from the White House press office.
It’s not the biggest story in the news today. But it’s a fact that this author wasn’t aware of, and truth be told, it’s quite disgusting and unbelievable. Apparently, it’s no secret that the White House – the home of the country’s sitting President and his family – has always had a problem keeping unwanted vermin out. And once again, the problem is so out of control it’s making the President and the entire country look bad.
How do you like me now?
Perhaps it’s fitting that the entire White House press pool – the members of the media assigned to cover the President by their respective news outlets – are the main victims of the current cockroach problem. They spun their stories to help get Barack Obama elected and they’re even dedicated enough to censor the latest vomit-inducing episode just to spare the administration some embarrassment.
What does the White House press corps get in return for its unbreakable love for Barack Obama? According to the National Journal, they get to live and work in a dungeon-like basement, flooded, reeking of mold, covered in rat traps, and infested with dead rats and cockroaches.
Towson University Professor Martha Joynt Kumar has used the White House press offices for nearly four decades. It’s no wonder she was one of the most outspoken of the members of the media present when a cockroach walked right out into the open. “It was the size of a small drone,” Kumar humorously remarked, “I wanted to bag it so that the GSA would know what kind of issue we had. I chased it. But it got away behind some wiring.”
History of vermin in the White House
This isn’t the first time the cockroach, mouse and rat problem in the White House has gotten so bad, it’s making the news. As the National Journal piece reminds readers, former President Jimmy Carter had a near-meltdown in 1977 when a meeting he was having with the Italian Prime Minister was invaded by the unbearable stench of dead mice coming from the walls of the White House meeting rooms.
Carter was so angry and frustrated at the time that he wrote in his diary, “For two or three months now I’ve been telling them to get rid of the mice. They still seem to be growing in numbers, and I am determined either to fire somebody or get the mice cleared out – or both.”
First lady Barbara Bush had her own run-in with a giant rat during the Bush occupancy of the White House. While taking her daily swim in the White House pool, she was horrified to see a huge rat swimming with her. “It was enormous,” Mrs. Bush told reporters at the time, “and did not look like a Walt Disney friend, I’ll tell you that.” The first lady was fortunate in that episode as the family dog Millie came to her rescue, taking care of the unwanted rat for good.
Typical federal response
Perhaps the most frustrating, and yet not surprising aspect of the ongoing White House vermin infestation is the dysfunctional manner in which federal officials have gone about addressing the problem. As mentioned by former President Carter, the responsibility for keeping the White House free from roaches and rats falls to two separate government agencies. And in typical fashion, they spend more time pointing fingers at each other than eliminating the infestations.
The General Services Administration (GSA) is responsible for keeping the inside of the White House free from vermin. The Department of the Interior is responsible for keeping the outside clear. For decades, GSA officials have insisted that the problem lies with the Interior Dept. because the rats and roaches are all coming in from the outside. But officials from the Dept. of the Interior counter that the pests are all on the inside of the White House and not their jurisdiction.
At first, this story generates shock and outrage from most Americans. But realizing that the victims are all members of the White House like President Obama and the Bill Daleys and Rahm Emanuels of the world, along with the very same members of the corporate-owned media who love to fill our TV’s with pro-Obama love stories – there’s something strangely satisfying knowing that they’re all forced to spend their days overrun by cockroaches and overwhelmed by the stench of dead rats in the walls.
It reminds this author of a line from his book, Romantic Violence in R World, ‘Here’s another life lesson. Karma’s real. What goes around, comes around. You get what you give. It’s all true.’