While we have been watching this extraordinary Presidential Inauguration, with over a million people crammed into the National Mall and many millions more watching and listening on televisions and radios (and computers and cell phones), something else amazing is happening at the White House itself.
President Bush and his wife, Laura, will wake up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Tuesday morning, just as they have the last eight years. But by the time the new president, Barack Obama, returns from the inaugural parade with his family in late afternoon, there will be nary a box of theirs left to unpack. Clothes will be neatly folded in drawers, pictures will rest on dresser tops and walls, stuffed animals will lie on beds, as if the Obamas had always lived there.
The highly orchestrated quick-change operation, conducted by the 93-member White House residence staff, has no parallel in the outside world. The entire affair is over and done with in a matter of hours, without a single moving man setting foot inside the Executive Mansion.
If you have ever wondered how long it takes the new First Family to settle in, the answer would appear to be “a matter of hours.”
The staff only has 5 or 6 hours to make the transition, but rest assured that they have already had in depth discussion with Michelle Obama about what needs to happen. They still need to make sure that 132 rooms are “just so,” but most importantly those in which the Obama family will reside. While the process obviously includes packing the Bush family items and unpacking the Obama family belongings, it may also involve painting rooms! After all, it’s been 8 years. Nevertheless, by the time Barack, Michelle, Sasha and Malia get there, it will feel like home.
Of course, when doing that much on such a tight schedule, sometimes things do go wrong. Here are just a few things that have gone wrong in the past.