President-elect Barack Obama

A Big Block of Cheese


"Jackson's Great Cheese Levee" by Benjamin Perley Poore, 1886

Fellow superfans of The West Wing will recognize the headline as Leo McGarry's ongoing pet project to follow in the tradition of Andrew Jackson by making the White House "the people's house." President Jackson once placed a 1,400 pound wheel of cheese in the White House entrance hall and invited citizens who were hungry to come to the White House and dig in.

The President-elect today on Meet the Press:

PRES.-ELECT OBAMA: Oh, well, you know, we have thought about this because part of what we want to do is to open up the White House and, and remind people this is, this is the people's house. There is an incredible bully pulpit to be used when it comes to, for example, education. Yes, we're going to have an education policy. Yes, we're going to be putting more money into school construction.

But, ultimately, we want to talk about parents reading to their kids. We want to invite kids from local schools into the White House.

When it comes to science, elevating science once again, and having lectures in the White House where people are talking about traveling to the stars or breaking down atoms, inspiring our youth to get a sense of what discovery is all about.

Thinking about the diversity of our culture and, and inviting jazz musicians and classical musicians and poetry readings in the White House so that, once again, we appreciate this incredible tapestry that's America. I--you know, that, I think, is, is going to be incredibly important, particularly because we're going through hard times. And, historically, what has always brought us through hard times is that national character, that sense of optimism, that willingness to look forward, that, that sense that better days are ahead.

I think that our art and our culture, our science, you know, that's the essence of what makes America special, and, and we want to project that as much as possible in the White House.

Instead of a big block of cheese, this president will give us science, education and the arts in that great building. And when it comes to the White House, these are things for which we're surely hungry.