(NATIONALJOURNAL) — It was just a cockroach, one of millions around the world. But this one had a White House address, making it pretty special. Well, special at least to the reporters with workspace in the often-troubled basement of the press offices. Already this year, they have been treated to flooding, soaked carpet, mousetraps and the wondrous odors of mold.
“It was the size of a small drone,” said Martha Joynt Kumar, professor of political science at Towson University, who led the effort Wednesday to capture the bug. Kumar, who has worked out of the press offices studying the president-press relationship for almost four decades, wanted to turn it into the General Services Administration, the agency responsible for the building. “I wanted to bag it so that the GSA would know what kind of issue we had,” she said. “I chased it. But it got away behind some wiring.”
It is, of course, not the first time bugs or vermin have done battle with the humans who work in the 213-year-old building. Humans have not always prevailed easily – much to the deep frustration sometimes of the president of the United States. None was more frustrated than Jimmy Carter, who battled mice from the start of his administration. To his dismay, he found the bureaucracy unresponsive. GSA, responsible for inside the White House, insisted it had eliminated all “inside” mice and contended any new mice must have come from the outside, meaning, the New York Times reported at the time, they were “the responsibility of the Interior Department.” But Interior, wrote the Times, “demurred” because the mice were now inside the White House.