White House Takes Cue From West Wing, Hosts (Virtual) “Big Block of Cheese Day”

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 25 2014 10:15 AM

White House Takes Cue From West Wing, Hosts (Virtual) “Big Block of Cheese Day”

Comparisons between President Obama and Josiah “Jed” Bartlett may be a thing of the past but West Wing fans can rejoice that their show is still in the minds of those who work in the real White House. On Wednesday, the White House will host a virtual “Big Block of Cheese Day” in what it described as a “nod to history (and maybe the TV show the West Wing).” The idea was discussed on the show, in which White House staff were required on one day a year to meet with citizens and interest groups who would otherwise not have access to top White House officials. The initiative was described as a continuation of President Andrew Jackson’s February 22, 1837 initiative, in which he held an open house that featured a 1,400-pound block of cheese.

“This original ‘Big Block of Cheese Day’ opened the doors of the White House to thousands of citizens to interact with cabinet members and White House staff—and carve off a slice of the four foot by two foot thick slab of cheddar,” notes the White House statement. The event next week will hardly be that exciting. On Wednesday, dozens of officials will be answering questions from social media throughout the day. White House press secretary Jay Carney announced the initiative with a video featuring West Wing actors Bradley Whitford and Josh Malina.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.