I can see it now: frazzled and overwrought White House staff members gather for a meeting in a small West Wing office to finalize the next month’s events calendar. They’ve endured a nightmarish couple of weeks filled with scandal, hearsay, and bloodthirsty reporters, set off against the onset of Washington’s swampy summer heat. Rumors of firings have been flying; careers may be ending. Stress permeates the air.
And then they look down the calendar and simultaneously suffer cardiac arrest:
“UNCLE” JOE BIDEN’S SUMMER BEACH BASH. Annual event in which VP invites staffers and senior media members to celebrate summer with water gun fights and face painting at official residence. Threat of VP shirtlessness: high.
The staffers exchange a look of primal fear before all lunging at the same red pen on the desk. And thus arrives the unceremonious end of a three-year-old White House tradition.
It seems like an article out of The Onion, but for the past three years, Joe and his wife Jill have thrown just such a party on the lawn of the official vice presidential residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory. Staffers and Washington’s elite journalists are typically invited to the event, which based on the available photographs have centered around epic Super Soaker battles involving the vice president and many children. Bilderberg it ain’t.
Rahm Emanuel, Wolf Blitzer, Candy Crowley, and an assortment of other senior D.C. figures have all gathered at these “beach” parties to chow down on hot dogs and spray each other with water guns. The overt fraternization between the media and top administration names has been cause for at least some ethical questioning, notably this piece by Super-Soakee Marc Ambinder, who admittedly sought “to rationalize my own decision to attend.”
The practice of private vice presidential schmoozing has precedent, but now is an understandably bad time to test the limits of that allowance. Mired in a press scandal that has recently gotten worse, the last thing the White House needs is Uncle Joe spending sequester-proof dollars to go buck wild in front of the Beltway’s top media people. There was no official reason given for this year’s cancellation, but we scarcely needed one. The media are angry enough without Biden playfully soaking down Chuck Todd’s hair with a water gun.
The big winner, of course, is Joe Biden, who we expect is super pumped right now to have a bunch of water guns and hot dogs to himself.