By Germanm

May 17, 2006 8:41pm

Chief White House Correspondent Martha Raddatz blogs on the fauna that call the White House lawn home. “A viewer emailed Jon Banner that they saw a rat run behind you during your live shot at the White House.” That is the email I had waiting on my BlackBerry as I was leaving the supposed rat infested North Lawn tonight after my live shot for the show. Jon Banner is the multi-talented, well traveled executive producer of World News Tonight and I figured he would know a rat when he saw one! So I took a look at the tape. Yes, there was something scurrying across the screen behind me (is that why Elizabeth Vargas was smiling when I tossed it back to her?), but I’m putting my money on it being a squirrel. The White House lawn is crawling with large bossy squirrels who have been roaming these lawns a lot longer than I have. In fact, when I finished my live shot there was a fat fur ball in the path that would not budge even after I stomped my feet several times. I had to step over him/her. (At right, a squirrel on White House grounds.)
But this whole rat idea did remind me of the last time I had a rat encounter. Okay, bad transition sentence (but I’m trying to get out of here!). It was in Baghdad and the house I was staying in had an unwanted pet. A rat the size — standby for hyperbole — of an outhouse. It took three soldiers to corral him/her (hard to tell rodent gender from a distance, and who would want to get closer?) , and one of them was a general. He was armed with a frying pan; the young male soldier had a broom; and the young female soldier had a box. With the general raising high the pan, the broom swiftly scooted the rat into the box. The three brave soldiers then ran the box to the nearby body of fetid water and tossed in the scoundrel. Who knew rats could swim so well? He/she promptly headed for shore and dashed back toward the house — or then again, maybe the White House? (At left, not a real rat.)

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