Obama’s former adviser, Dan Pfeiffer, on eating at the White House
If you still miss President Barack Obama, Dan Pfeiffer can relate. Pfeiffer is currently the co-host of the popular podcast “Pod Save America,” but for six years he worked very closely with President Obama, many of those years as his senior adviser.
Pfeiffer has a new book called, Yes We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter, and Trump. It’s an insider’s look of the Obama White House and how social media and media communication has changed since the Trump administration began.
Pfeiffer says if you want to see a big turn around in the next election, you need to start getting involved now.
“I think getting involved in politics can be intimidating. That’s the story I wanted to tell: that it can be a hopeful, fulfilling experience. Whether you decide to run for office or you are willing to volunteer on a campaign, to make some phone calls, go door to door. If you’re someone who is concerned about the direction of the country, disturbed by what you’re seeing. Whether it’s children being separated from their parents or what the president is saying about minorities or immigrants. There is fellowship about being with people who are equally concerned with what they’re seeing and doing something about it. These are dark times but there is another story to be told about a generation of Americans who are getting involved in politics for the first time to take our country back.”
Pfeiffer lives and breathes politics, so people often ask him how how he finds balance, how he keeps his spirits up.
“What I tell people is: you don’t have to live in the river of terribleness all the time. You can get out. It is fine to put down your phone, put down Twitter. Put on a movie, go to the gym, go for a hike. What my wife and I did, every night before bed, we would watch the Gilmore Girls. Be in this happier, easier time in America and hang out in Stars Hollow. Find something that is enjoyable because this is a marathon not a sprint. You can take a break from the terribleness and once you feel re-energized get back involved. Make some more phone calls, knock on more doors. It’s okay, you don’t have to suffer every minute of the Trump administration. If you have the chance to take a break, I encourage it.”
Pfeiffer is the latest guest on my podcast, Your Last Meal, so the conversation obviously turned culinary. Pfeiffer spent the majority of his 30s in the White House, and ate more than 500 meals inside its walls.
“If you worked in the West Wing of the White House there was something called the Navy Mess which is run by the Navy; they prepare food for the White House staff. Really, really good food. It takes so long to get in and out of the White House for security, going out to lunch wasn’t really an option. So I ate two to three meals at the White House Mess for six years. So I’m very familiar with their menu.”
When I hear White House Mess, I imagine a cafeteria with metal trays. But in reality it is a fancy dining room with official White House china, nice tablecloths and fresh flower arrangements. The butter is molded into the shape of the United States seal and only top White House staff have access.
So I was surprised when I saw the menu. At lunch you can order a non-fat charbroiled hot dog (a nonfat hot dog?!) and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The names of these humble “dishes” are written in curly, elegant presidential cursive. You can see the whole menu on my Instagram page, just click on Pfeiffer’s face.