WASHINGTON - After tomorrow, the Obamas of Hyde Park, the future first family of America, become vagabonds. Fresh from their Hawaii vacation, having grabbed the winter coats from their Illinois home, they alight in Washington and move into the first of two spots of temporary housing.
As a two-week crash pad, the Hay-Adams hotel is splendid.
The family will live there so that Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, can start at their new school, Sidwell Friends, on Monday.
They move into Blair House on Jan. 15, and into the White House on Jan. 20, after Barack Obama is sworn in.
The Obamas will be staying in a suite, one imagines - what else could you do with two daughters? There is, indeed, a Presidential Suite, but it has just 1.5 baths, while the Federal Suite has two full baths, a balcony and a view of the White House, about 200 paces away. The Federal Suite runs $6,000 a night on weeknights, the Presidential $5,000; regular rooms are $795 to $995, depending on the view. (The cost is said to be covered from private transition funds.)
The view is the big sell here. Down the block you have the AFL-CIO. Across the manicured walkways and past the statuary of Lafayette Square sits the White House, alongside the ornate Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
The Obamas had originally asked President George W. Bush's permission to move directly into Blair House, where several recent presidents-elect have stayed, to accommodate Sasha and Malia's school schedules. But they were told it was booked until the 15th (no word on who is occupying Blair's 14 guest bedrooms), so off to the Hay-Adams they went.
18 DAYS TO INAUGURATION
The Obamas arrive in Chicago early in the morning and will spend just over 48 hours at home.
The family flies to Washington and moves into the Hay-Adams hotel.
Swearing-in of a new Congress, one with bigger Democratic majorities that Obama hopes will help to swiftly pass the economic recovery package he wants to sign soon after taking office.
Bush has scheduled a White House lunch for Obama and the former presidents.
The Obamas move into Blair House, the official government guest residence, which had been occupied.
The inauguration. After Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, the family will move into the White House.