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Spoofs & Satire

Transitioning

Two candidates are vying for the White House—as are their decorators. Planning for a January move-in date, both teams have ideas for ways to ensure a smooth handover.

With the nation at war and financial markets in turmoil, “early planning for the transition [into the White House] is more important than ever,” said Martha Joynt Kumar, a professor of political science at Towson University in Maryland who is director of the White House Transition Project, a nonpartisan group that provides information and assistance to the transition teams of both candidates.
The New York Times, Sept. 21, 2008

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From: William E. Timmons
To: Martha Joynt Kumar
Subject: McCain White House Transition Phase I

Dear Ms. Kumar:

Thank you once again for our phone conversation yesterday. As you’re keenly aware, my responsibility as head of the McCain campaign’s transition team is to ensure my candidate, should he be elected, integrate as seamlessly as possible into his position as commander in chief. On behalf of the senator, I express our appreciation for your counsel in regard to this manner—as well as for all wheelchair-accessible entrances.

Our first priority is to make Sen. McCain feel comfortable—”at home,” if you will. The senator functions most effectively when he feels safe, calm, and in his own element. With this in mind, please find attached our blueprint request for certain minor structural changes to the White House. These include enhancements in décor (Oval Office desert landscape mural, various lizards, rocks) as well as functional additions (bathroom safety railings, low-rise stairs, easy-access pajamas/slippers closet in the presidential bedroom). One room, preferably accessible only to Sen. McCain, should be converted to resemble a North Vietnamese prison, as well—this being for the job’s difficult moments when deep personal reflection is necessary.

Regards,
Bill Timmons




* * *


From: John D. Podesta
To: Martha Joynt Kumar
Subject: Team Obama White House Transition

Ms. Kumar:

I trust you are well. Our transition team has been working nonstop and I am happy to say that, with the many helpful suggestions you’ve provided, plans for our White House move are in full swing. It is vital to the health of our nation that Sen. Obama has at his disposal all existing resources from minute one, and that certain elements of White House life be “adjusted” to meet his and Michelle’s needs. (The theme for our White House transition, not surprisingly, is “Change.”)

I’d like to quickly relay a story told to me while serving as a chief of staff under President Clinton. When he took office in 1993, there were certain eyebrow-raising transition requests entered on the president-elect’s behalf—among them: Playboy and Penthouse subscriptions (one each for the East and West Wings), unlimited quantities of McDonald’s french fries, and temporary conversion of the Blue and Red Rooms into Green Rooms I and II. The point I am making here is that, while some of the transition requests you have seen thus far from Sen. Obama may seem strange or inutile (mirrored walls in the Oval Office and a “more throne-like” chair, to name a couple), I assure you they are of utmost necessity. Remember the great leader President Clinton went on to become—despite his eccentricities?

Your assistance in making these adjustments going forward continues to earn our gratitude.

Sincerely,
John Podesta
Obama/Biden ‘08




* * *


From: William E. Timmons
To: Martha Joynt Kumar
Subject: Quick question re: “the” White House

Ms. Kumar:

We realize this one may be a bit out of left field, but is there anything, legally speaking, that prohibits a U.S. president from building additional White Houses, or dubbing pre-existing structures as “White House II,” for example? You know: a White House in Arizona, or a White House in Aspen, Colo. Would this be a better question for the zoning people, or for a federal judge, say?

Sen. McCain is naturally a bit of a homebody and would not mind having a handful of “White Houses away from White House” (eight, precisely).

Thanks!
Bill Timmons




* * *


From: John D. Podesta
To: Martha Joynt Kumar
Subject: Storage space

Ms. Kumar:

Barack Obama is an eloquent and well-read individual. (Have you heard this about him yet?) The countless sets of law books, Latin texts, oratory manuals, and other dense tomes in his possession would fill at least one large room in the West Wing (with one wall dedicated to personal copies of The Audacity of Hope). Please make arrangements for an easily accessible storage area for these books, as Sen. Obama consults them often in order to bolster his speeches. It is our understanding George W. Bush removed any such shelving to hang posters of baseball players and magazine centerfolds.

Regards,
John Podesta
Obama/Biden ‘08




* * *


From: William E. Timmons
To: Martha Joynt Kumar
Subject: Help us make the White House (and America) safer!

Ms. Kumar:

Perhaps you are aware that our enemies abroad consider the first year of the president’s term a time of weakness and vulnerability for our beloved country. Indeed, both World Trade Center attacks occurred within this timeframe. Therefore, it is essential we have the proper infrastructure and staff in place to respond promptly to threats—and that Mrs. McCain has at least 2,000 square feet of storage space set aside for wardrobe, jewelry, and makeup.

At this juncture, the McCain campaign’s dedication to beefing up national security should be apparent to anyone with fully functioning eyes and ears. (Don’t worry: It is also apparent to the senator himself). Here we have a strong, intrepid leader with the right judgment and experience to know if (read: when) a button needs pushing. Our only concern is that, should the senator get that call in bed at three in the morning, we may not be able to afford the 45 minutes to an hour required for him to make his way over to the Situation Room. We therefore request remote control mechanisms for any and all buttons he may (read: will) be required to push. (Just in case.)

Warm regards,
Bill Timmons




* * *


From: John D. Podesta
To: Martha Joynt Kumar
Subject: Construction on recreational facilities

Ms. Kumar:

You mentioned last time we spoke that Sen. Obama is welcome to add recreational facilities or modify existing ones to meet his needs. (We understand President Bush converted a sitting room in the Executive Residence into his own personal gym.) That is great news. But, specifically, Sen. Obama wanted me to ask if he, personally, could be responsible for removing the bowling alley in the White House basement, and if White House ground staff could furnish him with jackhammers, a backhoe, and a stick or two of dynamite?

Please?

Obviously, we’re sort of joking here. But do keep in mind the term “President Obama.”

John




* * *


From: William E. Timmons
To: Martha Joynt Kumar
Subject: Oh, yeah…

Martha,

In regard to your follow-up question: No, Sen. McCain does not require any “extra” White Houses be recognized as federal capitol buildings, per se, just that he personally (and legally) should be allowed to refer to his current location at any given time as “the White House” in colloquial conversation (on the phone with Vladimir Putin, for example).

Also—and this is just something we’re kicking around—we had the idea for a “John McCain swear jar” in the White House conference room. This could be fun for the staff and a great “plain folks” selling point to the public if we assure them all funds will go directly to settling the national debt. Mrs. McCain’s take on the senator’s temperament these last few months indicates that such a measure could result in sizable donations, though Sen. McCain himself has called the idea “horseshit” on at least two occasions. Anyway, let’s talk privately once he calms down.

Best,
Bill Timmons




* * *


From: John D. Podesta
To: Martha Joynt Kumar
Subject: [None]

Hi, Martha,

Great news on the backhoe (though, honestly, Sen. Obama was hoping for an explosion or two). We’re already drawing up plans to install a facility much more designed around the senator’s sports preferences—one that will include a basketball court, ice curling sheets, and a midget-tossing arena.

Onto a more serious topic: Sen. Obama realizes that, even if he wins the election, it will continue to be a gruesome, uphill battle to connect with Middle America, particularly in a time of economic turmoil and amid persistent rumors he is somehow “elitist” and “pedantic.” Sen. Obama asks that a certain number of rust-ridden jalopies be allowed to reside on the White House lawn indefinitely after his election, that the grounds crew only trim the lawn once every two months or so (with a push-mower), and that we leave Christmas lights up year-round. He really hopes in his first couple months to acclimatize with his vision of Middle America.

Sound like a plan? All right!

Thanks,
John P.
Obama in ‘08!




* * *


From: William E. Timmons
To: Martha Joynt Kumar
Subject: Helping Sen. McCain keep in touch with loved ones

Dear Ms. Kumar:

Sen. McCain’s new duties will present precious few opportunities for him to maintain contact with certain friends and family members back home. We at campaign headquarters have been informed that the White House is fully equipped with the best high-speed wireless internet and phone service available—this is wonderful. Is there any possibility, however, of having a telegraph machine installed to supplement lines of communication to the outside world? He is, admittedly, still getting the hang of his AOL account.

Thanks,
Bill Timmons