Chicago Sun-Times's Sweet: First Lady's Garden a 'Victim' of Shutdown

October 16th, 2013 5:10 PM

Ever eager to dutifully further White House spin, veteran Obama apologist Lynn Sweet hacked out a blog post this afternoon lamenting that "Michelle Obama’s White House garden [is] a weed-filled wreck, victim of shutdown."

Sweet set out to convince readers that while the White House veggie garden was the first lady's "signature project," she was powerless to thwart the ravages of Mother Nature as the shutdown furloughed gardeners who tended to the plants. Apparently the First Lady can't work the garden herself with some capable volunteers from local charities like Miriam's Kitchen helping her, even though she used those folks for a harvesting photo-op in October 2009 (emphasis mine):


WASHINGTON—The White House garden — first lady Michelle Obama’s signature project — is a weed-filled wreck, a victim of the partial federal government shutdown, hitting Day 14 on Monday.

As a result of neglect, “the vegetables filling the 1,500 square-foot plot are now rotting away on the vines and in the boxed beds,” reports Eddie Gehman Kohan, the founder and editor of Obamafoodorama, the publication of record when it comes to food and entertaining at the Obama White House.

Gehman Kohan has aimed her long photographic lens at the garden every day since Oct. 1 to record the impact of the shutdown on the usually carefully tended garden.

With staff on furloughs, only a “skeletal crew of National Park Service gardeners..remain on duty,” Gehman Kohan reports and while they can water, “the gardeners are not allowed to harvest the crops, a White House source told Obamafoodorama.

“Weeds are springing up everywhere, and the vegetables that have already fallen off the vines are now mouldering on the ground.

“There are also mushrooms popping up inside and outside the garden beds, and leaf litter raining from the trees like confetti. The wildlife that lives on the historic 18-acre campus–including a newly arrived fox now making a home at the White House–are having a field day,” Gehman Kohan writes.

To view Gehman Kohan’s photo history of the garden and the shutdown, click HERE

Gee, I wonder who has the power to order the skeletal crew of White House gardeners to harvest the veggies before they rot away on the vine? Could it be Mrs. Obama's husband, the president of the United States? Nah!

And let's not forget that when Mrs. O started the White House garden a few years ago, she was more than happy to help local schoolchildren harvest its produce for a photo-op. Indeed, none other than Ms. Sweet's own "Early and Often" blog at the Sun-Times has a transcript of Mrs. Obama's remarks in an October 29, 2009 post entitled "Michelle Obama harvests White House garden."

Mrs. Obama gave local students and volunteers from a local homeless charity a pep talk before they set to work harvesting the garden:

[F]or less than two hundred dollars we have planted enough food to feed not just the folks at the White House, but we’ve also given a lot of food to some of our neighbors, and we’re going to do that today.

We’ve got some of the staff and our friends from Miriam’s Kitchen, who are here. Miriam’s — you guys raise your hands. The Miriam’s Kitchen team. You guys know about Miriam’s Kitchen? It’s a place where folks can go and get help if they need it. You know, if moms and kids and families are hitting on hard times and they don’t have a place to get food, they can go to Miriam’s Kitchen. And Miriam’s Kitchen specializes in making sure that everyone who comes there has access to really healthy food.

So everything that you guys pick here today, we’re donating it to the Miriam’s Kitchen. So it makes it even extra special, okay?

So I want to thank you guys for coming and for sharing this with us. And I also want to introduce all our chefs at the White House. Everybody, raise your hands, all of our chefs at the White House who are — who have helped to make sure that this garden grows and that we get good food, and they make it, and it’s good, and it’s healthy. You know, it’s all that good stuff.

So are you guys ready to do some work?


MRS. OBAMA: Are you ready to work really hard?


MRS. OBAMA: Are you ready to get dirty?


MRS. OBAMA: All right, let’s go! Let’s go, let’s do it, let’s do it!

A journalist with a healthy dose of skepticism might smell a thing or two fishy with the official line from the White House, particularly since charities like Fisher House stepped into the breach on the death gratuity fiasco. Would the White House have us believe that the First Lady could not get on the horn with local gardeners and non-profit volunteers to ensure the White House garden was properly tended and harvested and the produce of which sent to D.C. area food banks for the homeless?

Ms. Sweet has an appropriate surname. It looks like she will never sour on team Obama much less criticize Team Obama's politics of pettiness which is leaving a bitter taste in America's mouth.