A House by and for the peo­ple

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE -

A pres­i­dent-elect who han­dles his tran­si­tion from his home­town, not Wash­ing­ton. A big city and its res­i­dents cursed with traf­fic snarls and se­cu­rity mea­sures that get in the way of nor­mal life. An in­com­ing first lady who en­ter­tains wait­ing un­til the end of the school year to move the rest of the fam­ily to the White House.

Don­ald Trump, 2016? Yes. But also Barack Obama, 2008. It may be hard to be­lieve now, but Obama had an ad­just­ment to make when the Oval Of­fice beck­oned. In fig­ur­ing his next moves, Trump could take a page from his pre­de­ces­sor.

Trump lives and works in the 58-story Trump Tower, which is in mid­town Man­hat­tan on Fifth Av­enue, one of the busiest com­mer­cial ar­ter­ies in Amer­ica. Since Elec­tion Day, the build­ing has been the fo­cus of se­cu­rity ef­forts that have caused in­con­ve­niences for many lo­cals.

Part of 56th Street has been closed to traf­fic. Two Fifth Av­enue lanes are no longer in use. Trump Tower houses Gucci and Nike stores, which shop­pers can get to only through the se­cu­rity cor­don.

Pres­i­dents nor­mally live full time in Wash­ing­ton, with oc­ca­sional week­ends at nearby Camp David. But af­ter the elec­tion, The New York Times re­ported, Trump told aides “he would like to do what he is used to, which is spend­ing time in New York when he can.” Com­ing from some­one who pre­ferred to fly back from cam­paign events ev­ery night, this raised fears of per­ma­nent dis­rup­tion. Mela­nia Trump had in­di­cated she had no firm plans to move her­self and their 10-year-old son to Wash­ing­ton.

On Sun­day, the pres­i­dent-elect al­layed some fears by say­ing he plans to live in the White House, though any­one fa­mil­iar with his un­pre­dictable ways will take that state­ment with a grain of salt. But his wife and son, he said, will stay put un­til Bar­ron fin­ishes fourth grade.

Our ad­vice to the Trumps is to move, sooner rather than later, and avoid re­turn­ing home of­ten. That ap­proach would greatly ease the trou­ble in Man­hat­tan, sim­plify the task of pro­tect­ing the fam­ily, min­i­mize costs for the fed­eral govern­ment and New York City, and re­as­sure the public that Trump will give the pres­i­dency his full at­ten­tion.

Ev­ery prob­lem as­so­ci­ated with pro­tect­ing the Trumps is mul­ti­plied as long as they are oc­cu­py­ing two res­i­dences.

Maybe the pres­i­dent-elect will give high pri­or­ity to the in­ter­ests of tax­pay­ers, not to men­tion fam­ily to­geth­er­ness. Obama ac­tu­ally moved his fam­ily into a Wash­ing­ton ho­tel be­fore his in­au­gu­ra­tion so his daugh­ters could get started in their new school.

Maybe Trump will learn that the trip is sel­dom worth the trou­ble. The Oba­mas en­vi­sioned re­turn­ing to their Chicago home “as of­ten as ev­ery six to eight weeks,” the Chicago Tribune re­ported in De­cem­ber 2008. In prac­tice, they’ve rarely made it to Chicago, much less the house.

Bill Clin­ton once de­scribed the White House as “the crown jewel of the fed­eral pe­nal sys­tem.” The feel­ing of im­pris­on­ment is mostly a func­tion of the job. The ex­ec­u­tive man­sion is also a place where the pres­i­dent can en­joy se­cu­rity, com­fort, pri­vacy, easy ac­cess to the peo­ple work­ing for (or against) him and a bit more dis­tance from chant­ing de­mon­stra­tors.

For a fam­ily used to 30,000 square feet of gilded lux­ury, even the White House may be a step down. But for the next four years, at least, the Trumps ought to be able to rough it.

This edi­to­rial orig­i­nally ap­peared in the Chicago Tribune on Nov. 22.

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