Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Moving Day

There's one aspect of Inauguration Day that, apparently, has been going on for quite some time, but I didn't realize the full extent of it until this year.

The White House residence staff is geared to move the outgoing first family's things out of the White House, and move the new first family's belongings in, all during a window of about five or six hours between the time the inaugural party leaves the White House for the Capitol in the morning, and the time the new president enters the house after reviewing the inaugural parade.

In a break from past practice, the Bushes began the moving-out process early, according to this CNN report. It seems that the more common practice has been to leave everything in place until the morning of the inauguration. When that has happened, the departing president's family has had everything still in place when they get up on the morning of January 20. And the new president's family has every last thing in place by late afternoon, as though it were not moving day at all.

This National Geographic article, to which I linked in an earlier post, also describes that process.

Even knowing a fair amount about the resources a president has at his disposal, for transportation, communication, etc., I still find amazing the degree to which they're spared the usual headaches involved in moving out and moving in. I'm not criticizing the practice; it would make no sense to distract a president from his duties. I just find it interesting how out-of-the-ordinary a president's life is.

If all is going according to schedule, the Bushes and Obamas should be exchanging pleasantries over coffee at the executive mansion right now. So, in addition to wishing the best of luck to the new president and first lady, I think it's appropriate to make the same wish for the staff who will perform that high-speed moving process.

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