According to the Australian press, you and I are “miffed”, “outraged”, and protesting the decision to have former Prime Minister John Howard stay at Blair House instead of President-elect Barack Obama this week. It’s a “hot topic” on the blogs and radio and TV talk shows. I’m glad someone let me know:
John Howard’s decision to stay at the luxurious Blair House mansion in Washington DC has sparked a firestorm of protest in the US.
Outraged American taxpayers are demanding the former Australian prime minister book a hotel or stay at the Australian embassy.
The story is also a hot topic on US radio and TV talk shows.
For weeks the name of the occupant booked at Blair House on January 12 was a mystery.
President-elect Barack Obama and his family asked to stay at Blair House before taking the keys to the White House but were told it was already booked.
It forced Obama, his wife Michelle and young daughters, Malia and Sasha, to stay at a DC hotel, the Hay-Adams.
Howard is in DC to receive a Medal of Freedom from President Bush for his stalwart support of the US in the war on terror. Australia, under Howard’s governance, fought side by side with the US in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Howard provided a clear voice of reason for the fight against radical Islamist terrorists. He did so at considerable risk to his own political career, which apparently ended with his loss to Kevin Rudd in December 2007, after almost twelve years at the helm. (Rudd has also been supportive of the US and the war.)
Tony Blair has also arrived to receive the same medal for the same reason, but he’s staying at the British Embassy, as Bush had already offered Blair House to Howard. Alvaro Uribe, president of Colombia, will also receive a Medal of Freedom for his work in ending abuses and fighting narco-traffickers while holding off FARC terrorists backed by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. They will only be in town one night, and we should be happy to offer American hospitality to any of these three men, but Howard and Blair especially.
Besides, the Hay-Adams ain’t exactly Motel 6. I’ve been there for a meeting, and it’s one of the most luxurious hotels in Washington. I don’t think Michelle Obama and the kids are going to be terribly uncomfortable in those digs, “forced” there or not. Please curse me with a room at the Hay-Adams the next time I’m in town in our nation’s capital, if I can’t get the Obama administration to put me up at Blair.
And, oh, by the way — Obama isn’t the President yet. In fact, since he resigned from the Senate, he’s actually just a private citizen at the moment. Howard’s award of the Medal of Freedom is an official act of government, and Howard is here in the US as our guest. It makes more sense to offer the facility to Howard than to Obama.
So how did Australia’s 9 News determine that we’re “miffed”? The reporter read the comments on the Washington Post piece on Obama’s “inconvenient” stay at the Hay-Adams. That’s reporting for you …