And it’s a little glass-housey of President Trump — veteran of numerous health code violations in his properties across the country — to talk about vermin in Baltimore.
This is the guy who comes from a city that lionized a rat that scavenged a slice of pizza in a subway station. And this cheap shot about rodents in Baltimore is how he took a swipe at Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) over the weekend when he called the congressman’s district a “rat and rodent infested mess.”
You wanna talk pestilence? The nation’s capital is in the middle of a huge, public infestation.
And let’s take a look at the history of Trump’s current residence (when he’s not at Mar-a-Lago or his other Florida properties, with their more than 70 health code violations) — the White House.
This place has been rat-infested for much of its history.
“The rats have nearly taken the building so it has become necessary to get a man with ferrets” is how first lady Caroline Harrison reported it on Oct. 9, 1889, according to “America’s First Ladies,” by Nancy Hendricks.
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s housekeeper, Henrietta Nesbitt, was horrified by the mice, rats, squirrels, cockroaches and black ant infestations she found when they moved in, according to her 1948 book, “White House Diary.”
“I tried to get one of the entomologists to figure out how many generations of cockroaches had grown up there since President Adams,” Nesbitt wrote.
That administration modernized the kitchen. But that did little for the rest of the White House.
The National Security Council, during the Ford administration, had to evacuate the secure Situation Room in the basement of the White House thanks to a rat. Classified journal notes obtained by The Washington Post in the 1990s logged a rat incident on Nov. 25, 1975:
“Meeting was held in the Roosevelt Room rather than the Situation Room because one of the ladies saw a large rat in the Situation Room immediately before the meeting,” a staffer wrote. “I looked, but couldn’t find anything to club. The rat probably escaped into the wall space where the sliding map boards fit.”
Or that time President Jimmy Carter was the meanest he’s probably ever been, fuming when the Oval Office reeked from dead rodents rotting in the walls.
And maybe Trump forgot about the swimming rat?
“It did not look like a Walt Disney rat, I’ll tell you that,” first lady Barbara Bush told the Houston Post in 1990, after a rat swam with her while she did her daily laps in the White House pool. “I was out of that pool so much faster than I thought I could.”
“I swim with a mask, and it just went right by in front of me,” she told the Post. “Fortunately, George Bush was there and drowned the beast. It was horrible.”
The current administration has placed numerous work orders to capture rats, mice, cockroaches and stink bugs, according to a probe by the NBC4 investigative team. Trump famously called the place “a dump” when he was moving in.
Trump should be comfortable with infestations by now. Just check out the stacks of health code violations at his properties.
The New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found last July that his Fifth Avenue Trump Cafe and Grill had “evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.”
The year before, health inspectors battled “filth flies.”
From the inspector’s report: “Filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.” And: “Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.”
Funny that there’s pestilence always close to Trump.
And that may be why the current infestation in the White House is the worst of all.
The Baltimore Sun brilliantly punched back at Trump, calling him the biggest rat of all.
And given his impact on the country, that may be true.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica explains why rats get such a bad rap from humans: “Brown and house rats exploit human food resources, eating and contaminating stored grains and killing poultry. They have been responsible for the depletion or extinction of native species of small mammals, birds, and reptiles, especially on oceanic islands. Both the brown and house rat have been implicated in the spread of 40 diseases among humans, including bubonic plague, food poisoning, schistosomiasis, murine typhus, tularemia, and leptospirosis.”
Trump, the way his family and company enrich themselves with their suspect deals, questionable negotiations and persistent conflicts of interest, is eating into the stored savings of this nation’s working class.
His tax policies that help the rich and his largesse to corporate pals are hastening the depletion of America’s middle class and a livable, sustainable environment.
And his hateful, divisive and racist rhetoric in tweets, speeches and outbursts is spreading a disease of partisanship, division and hatred this nation hasn’t seen since the 1960s.
Yes, the biggest rat is in the White House.
Read more Petula Dvorak: