Tag Archives: White House

Harry Truman: Born to lose

Everybody knew for months that Truman was going to lose to Thomas Dewey, so much so that Dewey took long breaks from campaigning, says Lillian Cunningham on the Washington Post’s Presidential podcast. And by the time Truman left office, he was staggeringly unpopular. But now he’s one of the most-respected and best-loved Presidents in American history.

In the newest episode of the Presidential podcast, biographer David McCullough looks at some of the most difficult calls President Truman made during his time in the White House, including the decisions to drop the atomic bomb, push for civil rights legislation and fire Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

Washington Post polling manager Scott Clement also joins the episode to explain the biggest polling failure in presidential history—when Truman won the 1948 election, despite the many polls that seemed to show he didn’t stand a chance.

The White House is mostly a reconstruction of the original


After a piano literally fell through a White House floor, engineers assessed the 150-year-old structure and found it was rotten and “in imminent danger of collapse.” It would have been cheaper to tear it down and build something better, maybe even on a larger tract of land. But President Harry S Truman was appalled by the symbolism. Instead, he shored up the outer walls, ripped out everything inside those walls, and had it rebuilt to “skyscraper strength.” The oldest section was “a mere shell,” with two new wings added, and concrete and steel beams replacing wooden joists. Later, Jacqueline Kennedy oversaw detailed restoration of the interior.

The White House is Mostly a Reconstruction of the Original  – Marissa Fessenden, Smithsonian




Obama After Dark: The Precious Hours Alone

Fantastic article by Michael D. Shear in The New York Times about our night-owl President, who gets five hours of sleep and spends the dark hours mixing work and relaxation in the White House briefing room.

Great lede:

WASHINGTON — “Are you up?”

The emails arrive late, often after 1 a.m., tapped out on a secure BlackBerry from an email address known only to a few. The weary recipients know that once again, the boss has not yet gone to bed.

Great eye for detail:

To stay awake, the president does not turn to caffeine. He rarely drinks coffee or tea, and more often has a bottle of water next to him than a soda. His friends say his only snack at night is seven lightly salted almonds.

“Michelle and I would always joke: Not six. Not eight,” [former White House family personal chef Sam] Kass said. “Always seven almonds.”

Great quote, from chief speechwriter Cody Keenan: “There’s something about the night … It’s smaller. It lets you think.”

And this:

There is time, too, for fantasy about what life would be like outside the White House. Mr. Emanuel, [former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel,] who is now the mayor of Chicago but remains close to the president, said he and Mr. Obama once imagined moving to Hawaii to open a T-shirt shack that sold only one size (medium) and one color (white). Their dream was that they would no longer have to make decisions.

During difficult White House meetings when no good decision seemed possible, Mr. Emanuel would sometimes turn to Mr. Obama and say, “White.” Mr. Obama would in turn say, “Medium.”

Now Mr. Obama, who has six months left of solitary late nights in the Treaty Room, seems to be looking toward the end. Once he is out of the White House, he said in March at an Easter prayer breakfast in the State Dining Room, “I am going to take three, four months where I just sleep.”

I see the Republicans are revving up the Benghazi machine again

Because that worked so well for them in 2012. 

There are actually legitimate questions about the White House handling of Benghazi. The recent Carney memo is disturbing. But it’s by no means the smoking gun the Republicans think it is. 

And the American people are sick of hearing the Republicans rant about Benghazi. The American people hear about Benghazi and it just sounds like more birther/Muslim/socialist rubbish. 

American needs a party to oppose the Democrats. Instead, we have an embarrassing uncle who gets drunk and says inappropriate things at the Thanksgiving table. 

Update: Boehner to Form Select Committee on Benghazi