Saturday, November 28, 2009

Barbarians at the BBQ

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.


Anonymous said...

Fluff, I agree with you on all points. Some people are saying "no harm done", but the possibilities for tremendous harm were there: to the President, the Prime Minister of India, the VP...the list is mind-boggling. I, too, worry that this president isn't getting the protection he needs--and deserves. And as for Ms. Rogers---come on honey, it's not about you! Do your job.

And now, it looks like this disgusting duo is going to be on Larry King's show on Monday telling "their side" of the story. Just more publicity for these media whores.

Anonymous said...

We're going to hear that some staffer allowed this circumvention of the normal security protocols. Rumors out already. If they set up the Secret Service for a fall, they should be outed and appropriately disciplined.

That said, you are so right on about Desiree Rogers and Michelle Obama. Neither seemed to understand their respective roles.

In addition to their inappropriate clothing, both were touted to have checked every detail. If this is so, how did the official menu end up the most unbelievable mishmosh of misspellings and omissions?

Although it was escruciating to behold, I don't believe the entire United States of America will be blamed for their gaffes. The world knows better.

Divalocity said...

I hate to think of horrible events, but I do not like this at all. This is big time irresponsibility on everyone involved. The details of this event keep changing everyday as to what happened and now I'm beginning to look at them with a side glance.

Now on to fashion. What do you think that Mrs.O should have worn? A Sari or a Lengha? If she wore either one, it probably would have looked too costumery and any way the gown was beautiful.

I haven't seen any other pictures other than hers and Desiree's, now-her gown was hideous, I love her style but not that look, maybe she should have worn a Sari instead.

Ken said...

You are absolutely correct. I remarked to my friend the next day that this is how Obama will be assassinated. Obama and the country should be very very concerned.

As for that dress, well I was nonplussed.

Georgia Maude said...

I agree about most of it, don't know about any misspellings (which are never excusable), but what's wrong with Michelle Obama wearing an Indian designer?

E . E. Arthur said...

Bravo, Fluffy! I too agree that there have been far too many opportunities for the wrong people to get too close to the President, in the case of these two No Good Nicks her bad dye job alone should have gotten her shown to the exit. Michelle's outfit was a snore, a snore, a bore....

Old School Brand said...

This seems to be the age of Non-reality T.V. Revolting at best, and quite interesting due to so much at stake. Would this have happened during the previous administration's
watch? I am appalled.

Anonymous said...

This was not a ball. Or a costume party. Saris were bad, bad choices and anything that approximated them looked gauche as well.

Does no one know what "dinner dress" is anymore?

I have had dinner suits that were marvelous - usually an elegantly simple open jacket with a matching long straight skirt, to be worn with a smashing tank top underneath - sequins, beads, whatever. Velvet was a favorite choice for the dinner suit, and I had a separate short skirt made as well.

Although Jackie Kennedy wore strapless gowns, she never looked quite so strapless and her skin never looked as though she was either baby-oiled or perspiring profusely. Some shows of skin work better than others. When in doubt, don't.

Mrs. Rogers is an employee and should have been on duty that night, not cavorting in a gown that Comme des Garcons obviously did for runway "wow". Ikram is known for buying runway "wow" pieces that the designers never intended to be sold. Her customers - including her #1 customer - may not realize that she is laying them off on them.

Anonymous said...

Re my previous comment, need to clear up one point. Saris were bad choices by anyone for whom they were not native dress.

The notion that one should dress in the guest of honor's style is misguided.

The atrocious misspellings and omissions occurred on the printed (engraved?) copy of the menu that was produced for the dinner and released to the media.

For state dinners - the highest kind of invitation the White House extends - perfection is required. The devil is indeed in the details.

Parisbreakfasts said...

I disagree with Anonymouse.
In India everyone (expats etc.) wears saris - they are graceful and glamourous. What's the big deal about wearing a sari in deference to their guest, the PM of India?

x said...

Fluff your observations are always sharp as a razor! Agree with all thats been said and even I felt the whole affair was nothing short of a "holy mess"! Mrs.Obama didn't look elegant at all in that dress!As for the saree issue, I must agree that it was a very wise decision that she stayed away from it as very few non-Indians can carry it off well! She is too tall for it and saree generally suits women with a slightly generous bottom, which most Indian women are endowed with!

P Adhikari

Anonymous said...

This is 100% the fault of the social secretary. I read she admitted that she attended this dinner as a GUEST. Imagine.


E. DuBois said...

I agree with your analysis, Fluff. I must say that it looks like the White House is blaming this all on the Secret Service - erroneously. The Secret Service makes sure things are safe and the Social Secretary is ultimately responsible for the right people being there. So, the buck stops with the Social Secretary, period.

I'm so disappointed with how this all turned out - I, for one, was looking forward to this first state dinner for this administration. The Obama administration is ever so slowly losing its lustre for me, for a number of reasons and I suppose this dinner fiasco is emblematic of that.

I noted the spelling errors on the menu almost immediately! And I agree that Mrs. O was too darn shiny (on a side note what the hell is up with this trend?).

This makes me just heave a great sigh.

everyday a floor show said...

The couple of "barbarians" are sadly a reflection of the minds of those seeking celebrity.What happened to decorum and respect for the lot of them?

Actually, the crasher in red looked nice.Rogers outfit was dreadful..seems she is too caught up in her own celebrity, pitiful...I find the gown and ethnic bracelets on the first lady were not elegant nor worn well.

Think the President and First Lady needed an alterations person and a tailor so that their clothes the dress shirt was too big and the gown to to tight on the top of the bodice.
Clumsy evening, eh?

Anonymous said...

"Barbarians at the BBQ" is hysterial, and true. BET Television should have been filming.

Anonymous said...

Maureen Dowd has a great column today on this sad seedy story.

Helene said...

Dear Fluff:

I've been an occasional reader of your blog for roughly 6 months now. I must say, I find your sharp observations and willingness to state your mind extremely refreshing.

This may sound like a trite statement to make but it's an entirely sincere one. It seems nearly impossible in some circles to critique anything relating to the Obamas without being branded a racist, a Republican hack or terms I would prefer not to mention. I therefore think that it takes a certain amount of courage for anyone to state their opinions as honestly as you do. Kudos.

I too think that the kind of glitz and hype surrounding this administration is detrimental to its status both in the U.S. and abroad. I have no idea whether this is attributable to Ms. Rogers or to the Obamas themselves but as they mark their first year in office, they might do well to reconsider their inner circle. Loyalty has its place but not at all costs.

Thank you for elevating the debate.


The Luxe Chronicles

Anonymous said...

Maureen Dowd is clearly reading your blog. Clearly. Hey Maureen!

Anonymous said...

Fluff, I agree with most of your post. However, I think Michelle Obama's choice of Naeem Khan was not badly done. I thought she looked appropriately glamorous for a State Dinner. And, equally important, he's a designer of Indian origin but he primarily shows in the United States and worn by many American celebrities, such as Oprah (whether or not he's American is a different question). One of the commentators appeared to imply that strapless gowns on the First Lady somehow are more inappropriate than Jacqueline Kennedy - I think it's the First Lady's fit and muscular body type that makes strapless appear, for lack of a better adjective, sultrier than when Jacqueline Kennedy wears it - and I think it's fabulous. Finally, Desiree Rogers needs to understand that she's a Social Secretary first - one of her many roles is that of an event planner...and, as an event planner, you stay in the background. Commes Les Garcons or not.