When reality TV "would-be characters" impose themselves into the White House and onto the world-wide stage, circumventing decorum, a lax inner staff of official gate keepers and a woefully irresponsible Secret Service detail, there is a problem. The events of the first State dinner of the Obama Presidency were so surreal that it boggles the mind and casts doubts as to what's real and what's television. The line between the two is as blurred as the vision of those supposedly in charge of order and security. It's particularly galling that an occasion as auspicious as this would be tainted with such low brow, vulgar high jinks. I am surprised, but then again, little surprises me anymore. I guess disappointment gets closer to my feeling about the unnecessary breach.
The interlopers, a myopic, bottle blonde and her good ole boy husband are campaigning for a spot on Housewives of D.C.. She, the definition of the ambitious actress and he is her feckless accomplice. Her Face Book page and 4000 friends tells her sordid tale on a daily basis. Their lives are designed around a relentless search for celebrity. Every action they take is informed by their desire to ascend one more rung of the ladder. Their names are unimportant. We can call them Legion, as they symbolize so many and so much that has gone off in our society. When researching their information which appears on the Internet, I was also not surprised to see that beyond their ambition they have a long list of civil suits against them still pending. According to today's New York Times, they are also heavily in debt due to their many charities, Polo playing and Virginia wine country promotions. Sounds like everyone else we see or know: broke, and like squirrels trying to get a nut.That in itself isn't so heinous in this day and age, but that they would manage to insinuate themselves into the dinner and have their pictures taken with everyone from Rahm Emanuel, Vice President Biden and the President, himself, is a little staggering. All of it is lovingly displayed on the FaceBook page for the 4000 of their dearest friends and the rest of the world to see.
Entering the White House is not that simple as I have first hand experience. I was invited for lunch during the Clinton administration. You have to show 2 forms of identification along with your invitation. Forget any of the 3 items and you simply don't get past the guard house. I found out an even tougher lesson when I left after the lunch, only to have forgotten my coat with all those necessary pieces of paper inside. It was an hour before the guards returned it. It was maddening, but there was no running back in to grab it. If the layers of security were that thick for lunch and a forgotten coat, you'd think a State dinner would be even more so. Maybe if I'd been a blonde on a mission I could have charmed my way past the sentries and dispensed with the tiresome proofs of identity, as well as, an invitation or any other explanation for that matter. Had it been others of a more unconventional appearance, would they be celebrities today on their way to Larry King Live? Or would they be spending their fourth night in the Big House, busy making new friends?
Where the fault lays in all of this is a mystery that certainly will end with a scapegoat. This office will point at that one which will be pointing back at it and another. In the end some one in the Secret Service will get his walkie-talkie recalled and be demoted to the White House Tour detail. If you consider that their initial attempt to enter by way of a limousine was thwarted, some alert Agent was on the ball. But when they were seen exiting the car, getting a last minute touch-up by their make-up person and all of this being captured with their very own camera crew, then walked up to take their places in the line of guests waiting to enter, someone in charge misplaced the official clip board. They were announced as they queued for the receiving line which normally calls for one to hand your official invitation to the handsome Marine standing at the entrance to the room where the President awaits. There are armies of people there to make sure all is in order, with the Social Secretary having the last and final word. Just the fact that this is the first Black President to take office, I wonder why there is such a loose attitude towards his protection. He had better security during his campaign. What happened to the concern? Where was Desiree Rogers? Was she distracted with other things to make sure the proper protocols were being followed? Maybe she forgot she was on the clock and thought she was another glamorous invited guest. She looked like it. I couldn't help thinking that the part of the White House Staff Handbook that says the Social Secretary has a responsibility to put her job first and keep her lowered profile second got lost in translation. She's been uncharacteristically quiet in all of this.
What might have been a magical night wasn't. Barbarians stormed the gates and our First Lady wore the creation of a designer from India, out of deference to the honored Prime Minister Singh and his wife. Michelle dressed like a guest and not like the wife of our President. Mistakes were made that on a scale of 1-10......well, you can do the math for yourselves. The decision is purely subjective. After all, who am I to make that judgment? I was only invited to lunch.
On the Street…Tompkins Square Park, New York
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