The early arrival of spring has been a blessing here on the east coast of the United States, which has been repeatedly buffeted by blizzards over a particularly difficult winter. But as the cherry-blossoms begin to bloom along the Potomac, something else is blossoming in Washington DC; a new round of political dirt throwing. And this time, the political dirt has its roots in actual, literal dirt.
It was revealed over the weekend that the White House vegetable garden, much trumpeted by First Lady Michelle Obama, has been invaded by a particularly troublesome weed; cannabis sativa, or, as it is more commonly known, marijuana. A horticulturalist, Primo Diamante, who was hired as part of the garden project, has been dismissed for planting the cannabis. It is believed that he was cultivating the plants alone and without the White House’s knowledge. The revelation has already inspired a political backlash, as Republicans still reeling from last week’s health care reform vote attempted to regain control of the nation’s political discussion.
House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio convened a press conference hours after the news broke. “This administration once again has diminished our great nation in the eyes of the international community,” Boehner announced. “This emboldens our enemies and threatens the security of the American people.” The Republican Congressional leadership has begun meetings on Capitol Hill to discuss censure proceedings. When asked if Republicans would call for impeachment, Boehner replied, “We can’t rule that out at this time.”
The conservative media establishment has also stepped into the fray. Glenn Beck, talk radio firebrand and Fox News commentator, used eight hours of radio and television time this week to rail against the White House garden scandal. “Our founding fathers, those God-fearing, freedom-loving, courageous men, would be, no they are, they are rolling in their graves. This is despicable. From George Washington, our first and greatest occupant of the White House, to Barrack Obama, who’s turning it into a drug lab. I can’t believe this,” Beck said on Tuesday’s radio program. George Washington, it has been noted, grew hemp for industrial purposes. He also never occupied the White House, as it had not yet been built during his presidency.
The Obama administration, initially caught off guard by the scandal, has begun battling back. In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, President Obama announced the dismissal of Mr. Diamante. “While Mr. Diamante is an internationally respected horticulturalist and advocate of home-gardening, his actions were irresponsible and unacceptable.” The President refused to comment on any possible criminal charges Mr. Diamante may face. The President went on to reaffirm that neither he nor any member of his staff were aware of the six marijuana plants growing on White House grounds, before trying to deflect the political story with a bit of levity, “I just wish someone had planted a tobacco plant. This nicotine gum is not working.”
Mr. Boehner, for his part, had this response to the president’s statements. “If the President doesn’t know what’s going on, literally, in his own backyard, how can we trust him to lead? We’re talking about the safety of the American people here. We are living in a dangerous world.”
Michelle Obama, in a statement released through her press secretary, revealed the fate of the offending plants. “It is regrettable that someone we trusted has taken advantage of the opportunity they enjoyed at the White House,” the statement reads, “but in these times of economic hardship, it is difficult to justify wasting anything.” With this in mind, the First Lady’s office announced that it would be donating the plants to Leafs of Love, a California charity that provides medical marijuana to children with terminal diseases. “We were unaware that the plants had been installed, but now that they’re here, someone ought to smoke them.”