The Great White Jail: The Residence in the White House
Imagine being President of the USA, married, and with kids. Before you became President, you were someone much, much less, important. A normal guy with family leading the Free World, making life and death decisions. Yet, at the end of the day, after all the meetings and critical decisions, you commute home. But, unlike most, you commute upstairs to the third floor of the big, white, house. And while your family treats you as they have always done long before any of this happened, your residence, is anything but normal or like the house you came from.
Your "residence" in the White House is a whopping 55,000 square feet (compare to most homes are between 2-3500 square feet) and while you only need maybe three or four of the 132 rooms, they are there- just in case. And while you only use maybe two of the 28 fireplaces to cozy up to, the others are there- just in case. It goes on. It is a good thing there is a staff of 96 full-time and 250 part-time servants to help clean the 147 windows that people cannot see into (and some, do not allow the occupants to see out). There are eight staircases and three elevators that take you to heaven. The prison aspect are the numerous FBI, cops, anti-terrorist agents that will not let you out without an escort and keeping "the people" out this most exclusive residence. While the occupants sometimes only stay there four years, the servants stay on forever, many for generations.
Most occupants treat the residence as a house and not a "home". Many of rooms are decorated with things the occupants do not care for but are shown to the general public. President Obama said, "We are renters". So, with that attitude, few really put their own "mark" on it. It is like their days in college, make it portable and comfortable.
In the book, The Residence, the servants provide much of exciting tidbits. Of all the families, the Clintons provided the most scandalous material especially after Monica Lewinsky sexgate. One day, President Clinton had a gash in his forehead and maids were called in to clean up blood stains. President Clinton told them that he had ran into a bathroom door. Of course, the staff knew differently after Hillary and Bill got into a marital spat and she threw a book at him! The staff during the Clinton period claims the family was squalid in their private areas and they really trusted the house staff, Chelsea, throwing a teen tantrum, called her bodyguards, "pigs". To the staff, the Clintons were the most paranoid of all White House residents. To those who served the Kennedy's, they claim the family was the most decadent and JFK often had pool parties with his secretaries. When his wife was gone, he would swim nude. In fact, staffers said that the second floor was off limits when Jackie was out of town. The Nixon kids smoked dope, as did Clinton. The Bush families were the most normal to middle America. The Johnsons, at least LBJ, was obsessed with the White House plumbing! President Clinton had a room soundproofed so he could blast his saxophone without disturbing others. Jimmy Carter took panels off his old barn in Georgia and used in his favorite room. In 1998, President Clinton was forced to sleep on the sofa for 3-4 months after the scandal created bitterness between Hillary and Bill. But, the one first lady the staff disliked the most for her anal iron-handed control of everything was Nancy Reagan. She was a tyrant. Opposite of that was Ronald, who loved to chat and chill with the staff so much that many of them tried to avoid meeting him in the hall. He was one of those guys that simply talked and talked. But of all the presidential families, the staffers admired and loved the down to earth personalities of the George W. Bush. There were times the President would do things to help the staff! Everyone was on a more homey level, while the Obama's, staffers had to maintain their professionalism.
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