Still, there’s something about the White House that made me cringe and shake my head when I first saw the photograph of skateboarding legend Tony Hawk moving his way through it, hands in the air. Please don’t get me wrong — I have nothing against Hawk, or against skateboarding or skateboarders. In fact, Hawk is known for doing wonders for underprivileged kids, for giving a whole lot back to various communities and charities, and as far as I know I’ve never seen him in a mug shot.
Regardless, the White House is not a half-pipe. Yes, it is the “People’s House” and, yes, nearly every president has seen fit to make it his own–Nixon, I believe, installed a bowling lane–but watching somebody skateboarding through the home of every president since John Adams just rubs me the wrong way.
In fact, it was John Adams who prayed that “Heaven . . . bestow the best of blessing on this house and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it” and expressed his hope that “none but honest and wise men [shall] ever rule under this roof.” Regardless of what you think about its current inhabitant, or the previous ones, is it too much to ask that this president and future presidents treat their temporary home–the People’s House–with the respect it deserves?
Andrew Jackson voiced his opposition to a national bank from there. Abraham Lincoln contemplated the Civil War there. Harry Truman decided to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki there. Staffers quietly moved Jackie Kennedy out of that house as Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson moved in.
The White House is a living museum of American History, not a skate park. I think it’s great that Barack Obama decided to honor famous fathers in advance of Father’s Day. Still, permitting even perhaps the greatest skateboarder of all time to ply his trade in those hallowed halls is a little over the top.
The president’s residence, just like the presidency itself, should be respected. That means no renting out the Lincoln Bedroom to prominent campaign donors. That means no hummers in the Oval Office bathroom.
Am I overreacting? Perhaps. I’m sure that Tony Hawk wasn’t grinding his board down railings or against statues, but that’s not the point. The point, instead, is that the president and his staff are stewards of the White House, just as the president himself is a steward of the presidency. Unfortunately, President Barack Obama already is displaying a drive-it-like-you-stole-it approach to the country as a whole, I don’t think it’s proper to have the same attitude toward his temporary home.