Most people just never think about it. Yet throughout much of the history of this great land of ours, it has been a great embarrassment.
Until very recently, our vice president, the second most powerful person in the country (third during the J. Edgar Hoover years, fourth when Elvis was hot) had no place to live.
It’s hard to believe, but true. Until 1974, there was no official residence for the vice president. He was, in effect, homeless. Winston Churchill and Charles DeGaulle were known to snigger about it over cigars behind Truman’s back.
Finally, in 1974, Congress voted to make Number One Observatory Circle, the former home of the Chief of Naval Operations, the vice president’s official residence. The Chief of Naval Operations was shoved aside to a houseboat moored on the Potomac River.*
Walter Mondale was the first vice president to live at Number One Observatory Circle, and every vice president since has called it home (except Bush, who called it “Barb’s Place”).
The VP Has a Place to Live Now, But There’s Still an Embarrassing Situation…
I’m writing to you today to solicit your help in righting a terrible wrong. As you might expect, as each new vice presidential family moves into the residence, they desire to make some changes to the decor, especially when you’ve inherited Joan Mondale’s American crafts collection. After all, how many macaroni-covered soup cans and macrame plant hangers can you tolerate?
Here’s the thing: when a new president moves into the White House, the first family gets $100,000 to redecorate. But when a new vice president moves to the VP residence, the second family gets nothing.
That’s right. Zippo. Zilch. Nada. How embarrassing for the public servant who is just a lunatic with a rifle away from the presidency to have to move into a fully-furnished, antique-filled, 9,150 square foot Victorian mansion without a decorating allowance!
It’s just crazy!
That’s where we come in. We’re the non-profit Vice President’s Residence Foundation, an organization that actually exists. We even have a mission statement:
The primary purpose of the Vice President’s Residence Foundation is to assist in preserving and furnishing the official residence of the Vice President of the United States.
Now, you may wonder how much financial help a vice president (who, if we’re being honest, tends not to be part of the 47% Mitt Romney was talking about) would need to decorate the residence, especially since the families are allowed to “borrow” artwork from national galleries and museums. (Lynne Cheney, for instance did most of her “shopping” at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum, while Joe Biden is making fine use of Archie Bunker’s chair, borrowed from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.**)
Well, what if you were moving into a place temporarily, like a rental, only without the rent part? You know you’re going to have to move out eventually, maybe in eight years, possibly in four, maybe even sooner if the big guy has a coronary. Would you want to invest your own hard-earned, minimally-taxed money to repaint the joint because that pussy Al Gore moved in with a bunch of kids and dogs and painted the walls with reds and yellows?
No you wouldn’t.
By the same token, if you were only going to live there for a few years, you wouldn’t want to have to pay for a major improvement, like, oh, I don’t know, maybe that swimming pool Dan Quayle wanted.
Well that’s where we come in. And where you come in.
Here’s Why We Need Your Help…
You see, we operate financially like the government itself. For instance, according to Guidestar, a group that keeps its eye on non-profit organizations, for the fiscal year ending in 2008, we had revenue of $25,815 and expenses of $148,634.
That doesn’t leave much money for wallpaper.
In the past, we’ve relied solely on contributions from private individuals and corporations, many of whom wanted the vice president to know they were thinking about his comfort, if you get my meaning. We never had to do much active fundraising; in fact, we don’t even have a website!***
But now, with the very real possibility of a buff incoming vice president who we’re pretty sure is going to want a major home gym set-up, we are forced to turn for the first time to you, a person who made a donation to the March of Dimes in 2006 which got your name on a mailing list of potential donors to anything.
Please give whatever you can to help a poor, unfortunate soul resettle his family in a home that may or may not be decorated with Dick Cheney’s old pacemakers.
Because a vice president who feels at home is a vice president who, um, will be better at showing up at foreign leaders’ funerals. Or whatever the heck vice presidents do.
P.S. Enjoy the name and address stickers enclosed, and see you soon.
**True about Cheney, Biden, not so much.
***At least none that some lazy blogger could find.