Update: ThinkProgress has an entirely different take, culled largely from Margaret Carlson’s interview with Keith Olberman last night (that I somehow missed), which alleges the White House of booking John Howard at Blair House only very recently as a snub.
The New York Times is reporting today that the White House has finally revealed the mystery guest staying at Blair House, preventing the Obama’s from moving in before January 15th: former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, booted out of office in 2007 in favor of a more progressive governing coalition.
He was a key member of Bush’s so-called “Coaltion of the Willing” in the invasion of Iraq, and will be receiving the Presidential Medal of Honor (along with other “Coalition” members Tony Blair and Columbian President Uribe) in a ceremony on January 13th. Howard is staying overnight on the 12th.
The Times says it is unlikely the White House or Howard knew he would be preventing the Obama’s from moving in:
The White House announced just yesterday that it had selected Mr. Howard and the others to receive the award, but such ceremonies are planned long before they are announced. “Like many White House and Blair House events, planning occurs months in advance,” Ms. McDonough said. The medal ceremony is to take place in the White House.
But here’s the rub: Presidents-Elect have historically lodged at Blair House in the days before their inaugurations. It serves to reason that the White House knew this and should not, under any circumstances, have planned to keep a guest there (however important) only a week before the Inauguration. January 5th is much earlier than most presidents have arrived in Washington, DC — given that Sasha and Malia had to start school — but January 12th seems well within a reasonable time line.
I can believe that there was no malicious intent on the part of Sally McDonough and the White House social staff; it’s more like just another way in which this Administration fails to plan for the future.
You may remember that on Monday night, Rachel Maddow said she was desperate to find out what was keeping the Obama’s from moving into the Blair House. Now she can rest more easily.
Via Huffington Post.