Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Summer in the Clinton White House (Rather, the Clinton Executive Office Building)

A lot of things happened one summer not too long ago, but a few things stand out.

1) John F. Kennedy Jr. died.
2) I had a July 4 celebration that will never be repeated (probably not, anyway).
3) I delivered the president of the United States of America his daily newspaper.
4) My apartment was broken into, and the president consoled me.

So, I was a White House intern! Yay. Except I worked mostly in the Executive Office Building next to the White House, not the White House itself. It was the summer after the Monica scandal exploded. I was an undergraduate student at Gallaudet University, and I was forced to buy business suits for the first time. Major blaaaa ;-) I was placed in the mail analysis department. My job was to read President Clinton's mail and sort letters for responses accordingly. I started in snail mail and later read email too (printed emails). This was before email caught on, like it is today, so I have to wonder how many snail mails there are now. (Tip: to really stand out, send your correspondence snail mail and write on a somewhat obscure issue, or find a fresh angle. All the emails on the Columbine shooting said the same thing.) So, I'd read mail and code each piece of correspondence for the proper form response. For example, if you were writing to praise President Clinton in general, you got a different response than if you were writing to criticize him. Same as if you wrote on a certain issue.

Some letters required follow up, and these were set aside for AGLIAS (agency liaison). For example, one person wrote about the government taking his farms away. AGLIAS followed up. If a letter was especially memorable, it went into a batch. That batch would be further narrowed down and the top one (or several) letters were given to the president to read each week. I'm not sure if he responded to these personally.

I don't know if this system is still in effect today, but something resembling it probably is.

****

I met Buddy, President Clinton's dog, many times. One time I baby sat him, and what I remember most is he liked to knock over trash cans. I can't tell you how sad I was when I heard that Buddy had been hit by a car in New York and died (after Clinton's terms). Apparently, the Clintons did not leash Buddy or have a fence. (I don't know for certain one way or the other, but that is what the newspaper report said.)

****

July 4 was on the White House lawn with the Clintons, lots of other people, and all the free ice cream anyone could want. How cool is that, to watch fireworks on the White House lawn, with the president? Freaking cool, that's how cool ;-)  I also remember later that night, Clinton came out and announced Al Gore's first grandchild had been born. It was a true family environment, and I really liked it. People did not talk much about the Monica scandal.

****

State visits and ceremonies were great. The president of Germany visited, and I got to go to that. I also went to some sort of eagle (as in the bird) ceremony. Also a ceremony with the U.S. women's soccer team. Other ceremonies I forget, but there were quite a few. It was also common to pass VIPs in the halls. (Donna Shalala is SHORT, and coming from 5'2 me, that is saying a lot.)

****

I love the Christmas cards from Bill and Hillary. Bill Clinton was, and is, a very flawed man. But I think he was a good president. Hillary would have been, too. Now, let me say one thing. I am an INDEPENDENT. I am not registered Democratic or Republican. I think there is room for both parties, and I agree with both parties on many issues. Like I say a lot, the world is gray, not black and white. No one wanted to talk about the Monica issue while I was an intern, so here's my nuts-and-bolts take on it. A certain breed of man usually becomes a politician. These types, for whatever reason(s), cheat. That's simply how it is. That does not mean they're bad people or bad politicians. When the John Edwards scandal broke, I could see where Edwards was coming from, especially if all the stories about Elizabeth Edwards' temper and control tendencies were true. I felt for them both, John and Elizabeth, and their family.

If you marry a politician, you're in for a world of eyes on you. But the pros will hopefully outweigh the cons. Go into such a marriage with your eyes open.

****

John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife, and his sister-in-law... wow. Their deaths caused a definite pallor over Washington, and I felt it keenly. At work, we watched TV a lot (searches for bodies, funerals, etc.). Men and women cried.

All of a sudden, I think people (Republicans too) realized Monica did not matter and never should have. John Kennedy Jr. was dead. 








No comments: