Berliner Tageblatt - Pets, kids and Christmas: how White House has changed under Biden

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Pets, kids and Christmas: how White House has changed under Biden
Pets, kids and Christmas: how White House has changed under Biden / Photo: ©

Pets, kids and Christmas: how White House has changed under Biden

President Joe Biden transformed the White House in his first year with policies unrecognizable from the Trump era -- at least regarding the policy on pets, that is.

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Here are a few reasons the vibe is just a little bit different at America's most famous home since Joe and First Lady Jill Biden got the keys from Donald and Melania Trump.

- Pets -

Trump was the first modern US president to have no pets. An admitted germaphobe, he did however like using "dog" as an insult for everyone from terrorist suspects to ex-staffers and political opponents.

The Bidens are bona fide dog lovers.

In June, their beloved Champ, an elderly German Shepherd, died. Then Major, a bouncy shelter dog, got into repeated trouble biting security staff and others in the bustling complex.

After attempts at retraining, Major had to go to a less stressful home.

But just in time for Christmas -- and a photogenic walk with the first couple on a Delaware beach -- came Commander, a German Shepherd puppy. Yes, he's cute.

As for a Biden cat, the White House has yet to deliver on early promises.

- Family entourage -

Trump had his family running the country. Biden has them running around the South Lawn.

Daughter Ivanka Trump held a job as senior advisor to her father that saw her take part in Oval Office meetings and attend international summits. Her husband, businessman Jared Kushner, at various points ran everything from Middle East peace negotiations to the pandemic response.

Sons Don and Eric Trump often did the warm-up acts for their father at his many rallies. Much less rarely seen was Barron, the teenaged son of Trump and Melania, who cut a lonely figure around the White House.

The Bidens are more likely to be seen with an entourage of noisy grandchildren. The president sometimes even takes the kids or their friends for personal tours of the Marine One helicopter or Air Force One.

Biden's second son Hunter, 51, has largely gone off the radar.

A former alcoholic and drug addict, he was the target of fierce allegations of corruption. Hunter Biden now paints and last year released an autobiography, "Beautiful Things," detailing his painful life.

- A more normal Christmas -

Melania Trump raised eyebrows with Christmas decorations one year that conveyed a frosty white tone, leading to snarky comments about the former model being an "ice queen."

Another December, the decorations featured startling amounts of red, including rows of entirely red Christmas trees, earning mockery that they resembled the famous torrents of blood scene in "The Shining" horror film.

The Bidens' first Christmas at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was, well, normal.

Trees were their traditional green, decorations were cozy and non-controversial. There was even a photo of Trump hanging from one tree themed on family pictures of former first families -- quite the seasonal peace offering for a man whom Biden has made no pretense of liking.

When it comes to religion in general, the divide between the two men could not be starker.

Trump, despite being allied to powerful Evangelical Christian political leaders, rarely went to church, while Biden attends Catholic Mass almost weekly, whether he's in Washington, at home in Delaware or further afield.

- Pressure on/from the press -

Trump professed to hate journalists, regularly insulting individual reporters and entire media organizations, which he called the "enemy of the people."

On the flip side, Trump loved to speak to reporters and he spoke to them at length, whether in meandering press conferences, smaller gatherings or shouting over the noise of his waiting Marine One helicopter.

One of his press secretaries, meanwhile, went a year without doing a briefing, essentially turning Trump into his own spokesman.

Biden has inverted the pattern. His press secretary, Jen Psaki, holds long, detailed daily briefings, taking dozens of questions.

The president himself appears relatively seldom, and when he does take questions they are usually limited to only a handful.

According to the American Presidency Project at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Biden has held nine news conferences in his first year, compared to 22 in Trump's first 12 months.

Trump also did 92 sit-down interviews during that time, compared to around 22 for Biden -- something that draws regular complaints from White House correspondents.