Okay, let me explain.
We reporters who work in the basement of the White House press room, generally hailing from less, well, less prestigious journalistic outfits, have long referred to ourselves as the “Sons of the Basement,” or SOBs.
For example, CBS. ABC and NBC are upstairs. CNN and Fox News are downstairs. The Associated Press is upstairs. Bloomberg is downstairs. So is the Detroit News. You get the idea.
Every Christmas, we throw ourselves a party in the basement featuring sumptuous dishes prepared by individual reporters. Okay, and some expertly selected store-bought items.
I am known for two things in relation to these parties.
Having little time or inclination to prepare a dish, I am generally tasked for some reason with bringing the mayonaise – and maybe a couple of other small things. But always the mayonaise. It’s just a tradition.
One year, on my way over the White House with a large glass jar of Hellmann’s, I decided to stop at the ATM. As I fumbled at the machine trying to balance my groceries – I dropped the mayonaise.
Interestingly, it cracked open, and the mayonaise emerged upwards in the form of a large white blob. It looked very much like someone’s skull had cracked open and their brain had popped out, gently bobbing after being released from its hard encasement.
I looked at it, decided that it was too difficult to clean up, and that, anyway, succeeding customers might be similarly intrigued and repelled by the odd sight. And so I just left my broken jar of mayonaise, with its cerebrum hanging out, there in front of the Citibank ATM on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The other thing I was known for was working most of the way through the parties, as other reporters ate and drank beside me. I had a deadline right at about the time the party was thrown, which is always following that day’s briefing. And my editor really didn’t care if I got my slice of pink, cured pig or not.
I was at the White House today, but I hadn’t noticed the announcements for the party, and I had other obligations after the briefing, so I missed the celebration this year. And so I didn’t get to hear the annual reciting by SRN Radio reporter Greg Clugston of the Christmas poem he writes each year. He was kind enough to send it to me, and so I share it with you here.
The 2012 White House Press Basement Version
by Greg Clugston
‘Twas the night before Christmas and in the White House,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that a tax plan soon would be there.
The holiday treats were stale and bland,
After Mrs. Obama had sugar plums banned.
The president was sleeping – for the hour was late,
He was tired and groggy, like the Denver debate.
He dreamed of the year and his bruising campaign,
Romney was tougher, it seems, than McCain.
With the economy weak and the jobless rate high,
Mitt made his case as the best fix-it guy.
Republicans eyed victory – there was change in the air,
In Tampa, Clint Eastwood conversed with a chair.
Romney rose in the polls and enjoyed his ascent,
But, oh, how he stumbled with “47 percent.”
Challenges abound in this new second term,
A Susan Rice pick could be tough to confirm.
Obamacare won with John Roberts at the wheel,
But the birth control mandate remains under appeal.
There’s John Boehner, of course, and their partisan tiff,
That threatens to drive us straight over the cliff!
With a Cabinet shuffle and more slots to fill,
He listed off changes, but held doubts for the Hill:
“It’s goodbye to Hillary, Panetta, and Tim;
And David Petraeus – now who’ll follow him?”
Suddenly, on the South Lawn, there arose such a clatter,
Obama looked up to see what was the matter.
Then what did appear, to wondering eyes?
But a man of great stature — and considerable size.
His eyes – how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
Chubby and plump and his eyes a bit misty,
There stood New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
He had come from the coast, badly battered by Sandy,
Seeking FEMA assistance and some holiday candy.
Christie praised POTUS for keeping Jersey afloat,
A far cry from his GOP convention keynote.
Riding high in the polls, Christie’s eyes held a gleam,
Was he thinking of running in 2016?
A White House bid comes at quite a high price,
So the president offered some political advice.
And I heard him exclaim, though it sounded absurd:
“Merry Christmas to all! And don’t mess with Big Bird!”