On a recent golf outing, President Trump was overheard describing the White House as a “dump”. Apparently, Donald Trump has forgotten that he is a servant of the people, and he lives in the Executive Mansion that belongs to the people. As such, his disparaging comment regarding his temporary residence is an insult to all Americans.
President Trump’s position could be considered understandable, I suppose. When you live in a $100 million New York penthouse with floor to ceiling windows, marble walls, and 24 carat gold edged furniture, moving to a 19th century structure where the floors creak a little and the wallpaper is faded might seem like a step backward. However, decorum and respect dictate that the American President, regardless of personal background, harbor an appreciation for the significance of the presidential residence in our nation’s history. After all, the White House will always be older and metaphorically wiser than any politician who serves there.
According to the White House Office of the Curator, the Executive Mansion has six levels, a total of 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms (no waiting!), 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators. If walls could talk! This is where Mary Lincoln grieved the death of her husband, President Abraham Lincoln. After Lincoln’s assassination and Mary Surratt’s arrest as co-conspirator, this is where Mrs. Surratt’s daughter went to plead her mother’s case to President Andrew Johnson. This is where Jacqueline Kennedy mourned President John Kennedy. This is the house where Presidents William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor died. This is the house where bachelor President Grover Cleveland married Frances Folsom in 1886 in the only presidential wedding ceremony to take place within its walls. These are the hallways tread by the men who built this country. These are the rooms where they lived and raised their families, where their pets roamed and their children played. The White House is an unsurpassed, historic treasure. It may not have floor to ceiling windows or gilded furniture, but it has immeasurable value and should never be referred to as a “dump”, especially by the individual privileged to reside there. If our 45th President does not grasp the White House’s intrinsic value, perhaps its worth should be put to him in monetary terms he can better appreciate. In 2017, the White House was estimated to be worth $400 million. That’s a very expensive “dump”.
On November 1, 1800, President John Adams wrote the following about the White House to his wife, Abigail: “I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.” To this, I add: may only those who value our nation’s past and pledge to selflessly guard its future be blessed to reside in the White House.