President Bush Is Fixing up the White House

By Janet Parshall

A lot has changed since George W. Bush became president-executive orders that support a "culture of life," judicial appointees who respect the constitution and members of the Cabinet who are unapologetic about their Christian faith.

But perhaps nothing more clearly represents the new leadership we enjoy as a country than that place Mr. Bush now calls his temporary home-1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

The president is quick to point out that it is not his house but the American people's house. And, as such, he treats it and the people who work there with respect. From the Secret Service to the grounds crew, the folks who work at the White House rave about the First Family.

The president and first lady prefer to entertain family friends in their private quarters rather than ask the stewards and waiters to negotiate difficult formal dining rooms.

Harkening back to the days of Ronald Reagan, Bush will not allow any man to attend a meeting in the Oval Office without a jacket and tie. Gone are the days of blue jeans and pizza boxes.

One of the clearest ways to show respect for someone is to respect their time. Everyone who works with and around the president has noted his punctuality. Meetings begin and end on time. This stands in stark contrast to the previous occupant of the White House, who was notorious for keeping visitors and the media waiting. And speaking of the former president, in his administration more than 500 staffers had access to the White House kitchen.

One presidential aide said they turned it into a fast-food restaurant.

These days, only 150 senior staff members have meal privileges.

Of course the Clinton years were known for worse things than that. US News & World Report reported recently that it was common for President Clinton to have violent and sex-laden R-rated film s playing on Air Force One. Even seasoned reporters would blush at the images being played out before their eyes while trying to question the president on some issue of national importance. A Marine who worked at Camp David publicly stated that pornography was littered all over the retreat. In contrast, President Bush has said that even some of the new major motion-picture releases, which are routinely sent to the White House for viewing by the First Family, are too vulgar for him.

I've visited the White House twice since President Bush moved in. As anyone might be, I was awed by the history of the place. Oil portraits of past occupants reminded me that some presidents have understood the honor of living there and others have wantonly dishonored it. My visits with President Bush at the White House were an opportunity to witness firsthand how much this man respects the office to which he was elected. He arrived at our meetings promptly and took the time to greet every person in attendance. He was warm and polite to each of us. His manner conveyed the message that he knew he was only a temporary resident and his job is to leave this august home in better shape than he found it.

In one of my meetings, I made a point of speaking to a young man who is part of the military service assigned to the White House. His job is to escort guests and to help people find their way through the large hallways. His uniform was covered with ribbons and his shoes were perfectly polished. His face was emotionless and he drew no attention to himself, but for some reason he caught my eye. "Thank you," I said, "for the work you do. You really represent us all in your service here. It must be wonderful work." He paused and then allowed a big smile to cross his face. "Oh, yes, Madam. It truly is." Yes, things certainly are different in Washington.