Who is Hot and Who was Blocked (or Forgotten) at First White House State Dinner


white house twn.jpgThe White House just released the list of those attending the State Dinner honoring India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Cool list actually. But not just because it’s India night — but because there are a lot of folks that could push other agendas in Obama Land.
Domestic Policy Council chief Melody Barnes, who recently expressed support for “gay marriage” will be there. I admire her and have been irritated by the pressure others in the White House operation have brought on her to retract or reframe her comments.
Gay iconic businessman David Geffen and his excellent partner Jeremy Lingvall will be there and should give Melody Barnes some support — and to make their case to Michelle and Barack Obama that being absent in today’s civil rights movement shouldn’t be part of his presidency. Obama and team need to reconnect with the gay community which has a lot of doubt about his support of an end to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and for an end to other anti-gay discriminatory legislation.
But having Geffen and Lingvall at this dinner is a great move — and was Rahm Emanuel’s doing. I haven’t been able to credit Emanuel with much lately — but he did the right thing tonight.
On another front, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman will be there tonight — and so too will be New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. The connection? Cuba.
Both strongly support moving the US-Cuba relationship into new territory and ending the restrictions on travel to Cuba for American citizens. Oddly, American citizens today can travel to North Korea, Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, virtually anywhere in the world — but because the Cold War still rages 90 miles off the US border, US citizens can’t go to Cuba freely. This is a self-damaging restriction on American rights that should be ended — and Berman and Bill Richardson are on the case. Look for them whispering in the President’s ear.
After all, India joined 186 other nations in voting against us a few weeks go in the United Nations condemning the US embargo of Cuba.
Intelligence adviser to the President John Brennan will be there — and so too will be his policy and political rival, White House Counsel Gregory Craig. Greg Craig is leaving the White House on January 10, but Obama really should begin talking to Craig right away about a new role. My suggestion is that he replace Israel/Palestine Envoy George Mitchell, who will not be at the dinner tonight.
Greg Craig would be excellent on the defining Middle East challenges facing the US — and my suggestion is that we encourge Senator Mitchell to try his hand at brokering peace among warring White House factions around Obama and Rahm Emanuel.
On the journalistic front, Tom Friedman of the New York Times will be there — and so too will Fareed Zakaria whose star continues to climb. Zakaria has largely been quite positive about the presidency of Barack Obama and not taken any substantial jabs at the White House — but I suspect that after an invite like this one, he’ll have to balance out his hyper-access with some substantial critique of the limited results of the Obama team’s foreign policy accomplishments.
Some other cool names: Michele Flournoy, Louisian Governor Bobby Jindal, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, Hunter Biden, Jim Steinberg, Jack Lew, Under Secretary of State Bill Burns, the Afghanistan-War Tax advocate Representative David Obey, OMB chief Peter Orszag, General Colin Powell, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Ben Rhodes (very cool dude), US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, Vinod Shah and John Doerr, Amartya Sen, Steven Spielberg, oops — and I forgot Brian Williams.
But some interesting folks are NOT there.
If I had any influence over the White House social secretary, I would have invited Steve Coll, the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of the book that Barack Obama has been carrying around with him for 11 months, Ghost Wars. Coll has been one of the most articulate advocates of an India-Pakistan rapprochement that eventually decreases tensions in Afghanistan and the broader region. Coll and Obama went to Occidental College together — and he would have been on my list for the evening.
Dennis Ross will be there — but neither George Mitchell nor Richard Holbrooke, who is reportedly off skiing for the weekend. But it would seem to me that Holbrooke’s portfolio is closer to India matters than what Ross is doing with Iran.
Where is Brent Scowcroft? Maybe the former National Security Adviser was busy tonight, but really — he is a guy Obama turns to behind the scenes and should have been invited.
Zbigniew and Emilie Brzezinski are other obvious DC political personalities who are missing from the roster. Brzezinski’s early endorsement of President Obama’s campaign was significant — and it is always good to have Brzezinski and Scowcroft on your side — but neither will be at Obama’s side tonight.
Two guys who should have DEFINITELY been there and somehow either kept themselves in the background or weren’t invited are former National Security Council chief of staff Mark Lippert and current National Security Council chief of staff Denis McDonough. These guys for quite a while were the most significant axis of power in the foreign policy arena, and Obama trusts them. McDonough works extremely hard, as recently recounted in David Plouffe’s book, The Audacity to Win, so may have been too busy. But come to think of it, David Plouffe is not on the list.
Eric Schmidt of Google would have been on my recommended list — even though General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt is there. I would have not allowed Larry Summers to bring a guest — and would have asked Paul Volcker to fill that seat.
Where are any of the Republicans for Obama? The three that got that movement going are philanthropist Rita Hauser, former Republican Senator turned independent Lincoln Chafee, and former House of Reps Republican internationalist Jim Leach. Not on the list!
I’d add Susan Eisenhower and General Wesley Clark. Missing in action both — and they shouldn’t be.
I am also surprised not to see Caroline Kennedy — who may be done with the political scene as far as running for office, but America needs her at State Dinners!
For fun — I’d include Jon Stewart and Bill Maher, and Arianna Huffington, but they are not on the list.
Gary Hart and former Defense Secretary William Cohen should really be there tonight — both for the leadership they have shown in foreign policy, but also because they both are reservoirs of smart thinking on India.
Where are Chuck Hagel and David Boren — the incoming co-chairs of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board….and where is R. Nicholas Burns??? When serving as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Nick Burns put the US-India nuclear deal together. He worked with Evan Bayh’s father — the much more progressive than Evan former Senator Birch Bayh, who should have been invited.
I’ll stop there….but I could keep going. It’s as much fun thinking about who is not there as who is.
Except for David Geffen and Jeremy Lingvall who will be the life of the party, I’m sure.
— Steve Clemons
(The full guest list follows after the break.)

White House State Dinner List — 24 November 2009
The President & First Lady Michelle Obama
Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, India & Ms. Gursharan Kaur
The Honorable (Rep) Gary Ackerman, United States Representative
Mr. Sant Singh Chatwal (Guest)
His Excellency Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation
Mr. Mukesh D Ambani
Mr. Tim Dutta (Spouse of Ms. Pia Awal)
The Honorable (Mr.) David Axelrod, White House Communications
Mrs. Susan Axelrod
Ms. Preeta Bansal, OMB – General Counsel
The Honorable (Ms.) Melody Barnes, Domestic Policy Council
Mr. Marland E. Buckner
The Honorable (Rep.) Howard Berman, United States Representative (D/California)
Mrs. Jane Berman, Spouse of United States Representative (D/California)
Mr. Om Prakash Bhatt
Mr. Hunter Biden
Mrs. Kathleen Biden
The Honorable (Vice President) Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Vice President of the United States
Dr. Jill Biden
Mr. Robert O Blake, Jr., Assistant Sec for South and Central Asian Affairs, State Department
Mrs. Sofia Blake
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York, NY
Ms. Diana Taylor
The Honorable (Mr.) John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Deputy National Security Advisor for Counterterrorism, Homeland Security Council
Mrs. Katherine Brennan
The Honorable (Ms.) Lisa Brown, Office of Staff Secretary
Mr. Kevin Cullen
Mr. Donald Browne
Ms. Maria Junqera
The Honorable (Ms.) Carol Browner, Energy and Climate Change
The Honorable (Mr.) Tom Downey
Mr. William Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Department of State
Ms. Lisa Carty
General James E Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Mrs. Sandee Cartwright
The Honorable (Senator) Bob Casey, United States Senator (D/Pennsylvania)
Mrs. Terese Casey, United States Senate Spouse (D/Pennsylvania)
Mr. Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Mrs. Julie Chandrasekaran
Mr. I.S. Chaturvedi, Personal Secretary to the Prime Minister of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation
Senator Satveer Chaudhry, State Senator
Colonel Ravi Chaudhry (Guest)
Ms. Rohini Chopra
Mr. Deepak Chopra
Mrs. Rita Chopra
The Honorable (Secretary) Steven Chu, Secretary of the Department of Energy
Mrs. Jean Chu
The Honorable (Secretary) Hillary R. Clinton, Secretary of State
The Honorable (Rep.) James E. Clyburn, United States Representative (D/South Carolina)
Mrs. Emily Clyburn
The Honorable (Senator) Kent Conrad, United States Senator (D/North Dakota)
Ms. Lucy Calutti, United States Senate Spouse (D/North Dakota)
Mr. David Cote
Ms. Katie Couric
Mr. Brooks L Perlin
Mr. Greg Craig, Assistant to the President and Counsel to the President
Mrs. Margaret D Craig
Mrs. Paula Crown
Mr. Jim Crown
The Honorable (Rep.) Elijah Cummings, United States Representative (D/Maryland)
Mrs. Maya Rockeymoore
Senator Swati Dandekar, State Senator
Mr. Arvind Dandekar
Mr. Rajesh De, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice
Nancy Ann DeParle, Office of Health Reform
Mr. Jason P DeParle
Ms. Bhairavi Desai
Javaid Tariq
Dr. Vishakha N. Desai
Robert Oxman
The Honorable (Senator) Chris Dodd, United States Senator (D/Connecticut)
Mrs. Jackie Clegg Dodd
Mr. John Doerr
The Honorable (Mr.) Thomas Donilon, Assistant to the President, Deputy National Security Advisor, NSC
Ms. Cathy Russell
The Honorable Anita Dunn, White House Communications Director
Mr. Bob Bauer
Mr. Ari Emanuel
Mrs. Sarah Emanuel
The Honorable (Mr.) Rahm Emanuel, Chief of Staff to the President
Ms. Amy Rule
The Honorable (Mr.) Jon Favreau, Assistant to the President and Director of Speechwriting
Ms. Sarah Feinberg, Office of the Chief of Staff
The Honorable (Mayor) Adrian Fenty, Mayor of the District of Columbia
Mrs. Michelle Fenty
Ms. Michelle Flournoy
Mr. Thomas Friedman
Mrs. Ann Friedman
The Honorable (Mr.) Mike Froman, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, NSC
Dr. Ashok S Ganguly
The Honorable (Mr.) Patrick Gaspard, Office of Political Affairs
Mrs. Raina Washington
The Honorable Robert Gates
Ms. Charlene Gaynor
Mr. Richard Heiss
Mr. David Geffen
Mr. Jeremy Lingvall
The Honorable (Secretary) Timothy F. Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury
Ms. Carole Sonnenfeld
The Honorable (Mr.) Robert Gibbs, White House Press Secretary
Mr. Anish Goel, Acting Senior Director, South Asia Affairs, NSC
Mr. Senapathy Gopalakrishnan
Mr. Mark Gorenberg
Ms. Wendy Wanderman
Mr. John Gorman
Mrs. Tamra Gorman
Representative Jay Goyal, State Representative
Kiran Goyal
Representative Raj Goyle, State Representative
Mrs. Monica Arora
The Honorable (Governor) Jennifer Granholm, Governor of Michigan (D)
Mr. Daniel Mulhern, First Gentleman of Michigan
Mr. Earl G. Graves
Mrs. Barbara Graves
Ms. Geeta Rao Gupta
Mr. Arvind Gupta
Mr. Raj Gupta
Mr. Rajat Gupta
Mrs. Anita M Gupta
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Mrs. Rebecca Olson Gupta
Mr. Lee Hamilton
Mrs. Nancy Hamilton
The Honorable (Ms.) Kamala Harris
Ms. Maya Harris
Mr. Kamil Hassan
Mrs. Talat Hassan
Mr. George Haywood
Mrs. Cheryl J Haywood
The Honorable Fred Hochberg, Export-Import Bank
Thomas P Healy
The Honorable (Rep.) Paul Hodes, United States Representative (D/New Hampshire)
Mrs. Margaret Hodes
The Honorable (Attorney General) Eric Holder, United States Attorney General, Department of Justice
Dr. Sharon Malone, MD
Dr. John P. Holdren
Dr. Cheryl E Holdren
The Honorable (Rep.) Eleanor Holmes-Norton, United States of Representative (D/DC)
Mr. John Norton
Mr. Robert D Hormats, Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs, State Department
Ms. Camille Massey
The Honorable (Rep) Steny Hoyer, United States Representative (D/Maryland)
Ms. Kathleen May
Mr. Chris Hughes
Mr. Sean S Eldridge
Mr. Jeff Immelt
The Honorable (Senator) Daniel Inouye, United States Senator (D/Hawaii)
Ms. Irene Hirano, United States Senate Spouse (D/Hawaii)
Mrs. Deepa Iyer
Mr. Parag Khandhar
Mr. Vasudeva Iyer
The Honorable (Administrator) Lisa Jackson, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
Mr. Kenneth Jackson
The Honorable (Ms.) Valerie Jarrett, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor
The Honorable (Governor) Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana
Mrs. Supriya Jindal, First Lady of Louisiana
The Honorable (General) James Jones, Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor
Mrs. Diane Jones
Mrs. Ann Jordan
Mr. Vernon Jordan
Mr. Anil Kakani
Mr. Farooq Kathwari
Mrs. Farida Kathwari
Mr. Neal Katyal, Principal Deputy Solicitor General, Office of the Solicitor General
Mr. Jeffrey Katzenberg
Mrs. Marilyn Katzenberg
Ms. Maneesha Kelkar, Manavi
Vinay Vaishampayan
The Honorable (Senator) John Kerry, United States Senator (D/Massachusetts)
Dr. Harish Khare, Media Advisor to the Prime Minister of India, Indian Delegation
The Honorable (Mr.) Bradley Kiley, Office of Management and Administration
Mr. James Coley, Jr.
Ms. Gayle King
The Honorable (Ambassador) Ron Kirk, USTR
Mrs. Matrice Ellis-Kirk
The Honorable (Mr.) Ronald Klain, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the Vice President, Office of the Vice President
Mrs. Chanda D Kochhar
His Excellency S.M. Krishna, Minister of External Affairs of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation
Ms. Gaitri Kumar, Joint Secretary (Americas), Ministry of External Affairs of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation
Mr. Vivek Kundra
Mrs. Jhumpa Lahiri
Mr. Alberto Vourvoulias
Mr. Marc Lasry
Cathy Lasry
Mr. Jacob Lew, Deputy Secretary, Department of State
The Honorable Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce
Mrs. Mona Locke
The Honorable (Mr.) Christopher Lu, Cabinet Affairs
Ms. Kathryn Thomson
The Honorable (Senator) Richard Lugar, United States Senator (R/Indiana)
Mrs. Char Lugar, United States Senate Spouse (R/Indiana)
Mr. Michael Lynton
Ms. Elizabeth Jamie Alter
Mr. Surinder Malhotra
The Honorable (Chief of Protocol) Capricia Marshall
The Honorable (Ms.) Alyssa Mastromonaco, White House Office of Scheduling
Mr. Brian Mathis
Mrs. Tracey Kemble
Ms. Kiran Mazumda-Shaw
The Honorable (Senator) Claire McCaskill, United States Senator (D/Missouri)
Mr. Joseph Shepard, United States Senate Spouse
The Honorable (Rep) Jim McDermott, United States Representative (D/Washington)
Mrs. Therese Marie Hansen
Mr. Zarin Mehta
Ms. Carmen Lasky
The Honorable (Mr.) Jim Messina, Office of Chief of Staff
Mr. Judd Miner
Mrs. Linda Miner
Mr. Newt Minow
Mrs. Josephine Minow
Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal
Kalpen Modi, Associate Director, Office of Public Engagement
Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Mrs. Deborah Mullen
The Honorable (Secretary) Janet Napolitano, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security
His Excellency M.K. Narayanan, National Security Adviser of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation
Mr. Shantanu Narayen
Mrs. Reni Narayen
Mr. Raju Narisetti
Durga Raghunath
Mr. Martin Nesbitt
Ms. Anita Blanchard
Mr. Konrad Ng
Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng
Ms. Indra Nooyi
The Honorable (Rep) David Obey, United States Representative (D/Wisconsin)
Mrs. Joan Obey
The Honorable (Mr.) Peter Orszag, Director, Office of Management & Budget
Mr. Jim Owens
Ms. Katie Owens
Mr. Deepak Parekh
Mr. Eboo Patel
Ms. Shehnez Mansuri
The Honorable (Governor) Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts (D)
Mrs. Diane Patrick, First Lady of Massachusetts
The Honorable (Speaker) Nancy Pelosi, United States Representative (D/California) and Speaker of the House
Mr. Paul Pelosi
Mr. Dan Pfeiffer, White House Office of Communications
Mr. Sam Pitroda
Mrs. Anjana Pitroda
General Colin Powell
Ms. Alma Powell
Dr. Rachakonda D Prabhu
Dr. Lata Shete Prabhu
Mrs. Penny Pritzker
Dr. Brian Traubert
Ms. Kavita Ramdas
Her Excellency Nirupama Rao, Foreign Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation
Ms. Preetha Reddy
The Honorable (Governor) Edward Rendell, Governor of Pennsylvania (D)
The Honorable (Judge) Marjorie Rendell, First Lady of Pennsylvania
Mr. Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting
The Honorable (Ambassador) Susan Rice, United States Ambassador to the United Nations
Mr. Ian Cameron
The Honorable (Governor) Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico (D)
Mrs. Barbara Richardson, First Lady of New Mexico
Ms. Robin Roberts
Mrs. Marian Robinson
Ambassador Timothy Roemer, US Ambassador to India
Mrs. Mary Johnston
Ms. Desiree Rogers, Special Assistant to the President and White House Social Secretary
Mr. John Rogers
The Honorable (Dr.) Christina Romer, Chair, Council of Economic Advisers
Mr. Dennis Ross, NSC
The Honorable (Rep) Edward Randall Royce, United States Representative
Marie Therese Royce
Mr. Michael Sacks
Mrs. Cari Sacks
The Honorable (Rep.) Linda Sanchez, United States Representative (D/California)
Mr. James Sullivan, Guest of Then Honorable Linda Sanchez
Mr. Pankaj Saran, Joint Secretary to the Prime Minister of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation
His Excellency Shyam Saran, Special Envoy to the Prime Minister on Climate Change, Indian Delegation
Mr. Jaideep Sarkar, Personal Secretary to the Prime Minister of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation
Mr. Parag Saxena
The Honorable (Rep.) Jan Schakowsky, United States Representative (D/Illinois)
Mr. Robert Creamer
The Honorable (Mr.) Phil Schiliro, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs
Mrs. Jody Schiliro
Ms. Annetta Seecharran
Seema Agnani
Mr. Stuart Seldowitz, Acting Director for South Asia, NSC
Dr. Amartya Sen
Ms. Emma Georgina Rothschild
Under Secretary Rajiv J Shah, Under Secretary for Research, Education & Economics, Department of Agriculture
The Honorable Sonal Shah, Deputy Assist to the President, Director Office of SICP, Domestic Policy Council
Mr. Vinod Shah
Her Excellency Meera SHANKAR, Ambassador, India
The Honorable Susan Sher, Assistant to the President/Chief of Staff to the First Lady
The Honorable (Mr.) Neil Cohen
Mr. M. Night Shyamalan
Mrs. Bhavna Shyamalan
Ms. Amrit Singh
Mr. Analjit Singh
Mr. Arun K. Singh, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation
Mr. Balvinder Singh
Mr. Mohinder Singh
Mr. Lakhwinder Singh
Mrs. Sukhbir Kaur
Ms. Upinder Singh
Mr. Steven Spielberg
Mr. Sri Srinivasan
Ms. Carla Garrett
Ms. Srinija Srinivasan
The Honorable (Mr.) Jim Steinberg, Deputy Secretary of State
Ms. Sherburne Bradstreet
Mrs. Semonti Stephens, Deputy Press Secretary, Office of the First Lady
Mr. Andy Stern
Ms. Anna Burger
Mrs. Jane Stetson
Mr. Bill Stetson
Honorable (Dr.) Larry Summers, Director, National Economic Council
Dr. Elisa New
The Honorable (Ms.) Mona Sutphen, Office of Chief of Staff
Mr. Clyde Williams
Mr. Ratan Tata
The Honorable (Ms.) Tina Tchen, Office of Public Liaison
Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally, Ambassador, Embassy of Belize
Mrs. Barbara Thummalapally
Mr. Jim Torrey
Ms. Rose P Lynch
Mr. Richard Trumka
Mr. Paul H Lemmon
Ms. Urvashi Vaid
Ms. Kate Clinton
Mr. Kirk Wagar
Ms. Crystal Connor
Dr. Eric E. Whitaker
Dr. Cheryl Whitaker
Mr. Brian Williams
Mrs. Jane Williams
Mr. Wellington Wilson
Mrs. Wilson
Mr. Neal Wolin, Deputy Secretary, Department of Treasury
Ms. Alfre Woodard
Mr. Blair E Underwood
Mr. Fareed Zakaria
Ms. Paula Throckmorton Zakaria


24 comments on “Who is Hot and Who was Blocked (or Forgotten) at First White House State Dinner

  1. Mr.Murder says:

    IMO Brzez being anywhere near these discussions in the past decade indicates he wants to proxy China into the ground war vs. Jihadists the same way he baited the Soviets.
    It’s taking our involvement, to a huge degree. As we back out they’ll use mercs with a command structure of our former soldiers and some largely populated country’s troops or dispossessed becoming the ground beef fodder of a wider conflict.
    Right now China is buying our participation. When that void arrives on our withdrawal someone will have to fill it. Supply/demand item there….


  2. John Waring says:

    A few weeks ago, Andrew Bacevich wrote an Op Ed in the Boston Globe Entitled, “Afghanistan – the proxy war”. The link is above.
    To summarize,
    “In rendering his decision on Afghanistan, President Obama will declare himself on several much larger issues. If the president approves the McChrystal plan he will implicitly:
    “Anoint counterinsurgency as the new American way of war.
    “Embrace George W. Bush’s concept of open-ended war as the essential response to violent jihadism.
    “Affirm that military might will remain the principal instrument for exercising American global leadership.
    “The McChrystal plan preserves the status quo.
    “Obama’s decision on Afghanistan may well determine how much – if any – substantive change is in the offing. The real question is whether “change” remains possible.”
    If the McClatchy reports are any indication, we will soon have our answer.


  3. John Waring says:

    Mr. Murder,
    William Burns was there. Undersecretary of sate for Political affairs, 1/4 of the way down.


  4. Linda says:

    I’ll add a foodie note hoping to bring peace between Steve and POA on this holiday eve>
    First it is inaccurate myth that FDR served hot dogs instead of a state dinner when the King and Queen of England on their visit to US June 7-11,1939. They had a state dinner at the WH, but then went up to Hyde Park for a couple days that included an informal dinner and then a picnic lunch, only menu I could find on-line:
    Sunday, June 11, 1939
    Virginia Ham
    Hot Dogs (if weather permits)
    Smoked Turkey
    Cranberry Jelly
    Green Salad
    Strawberry Shortcake
    Coffee, Beer, Soft Drinks
    As for last night’s dinner, I would have preferred my favorite Indian dessert, gulab jamun and kept it all Indian.
    Two former WH chefs on Larry King last night thought it was an insult to WH chef to bring in a guest chef, Marcus Samuelson, to plan the menu that WH chef and staff had to execute.
    Samuelson was not a surprising choice but not the right one. It played to Obama’s liking multi-cultural stories that surely Samuelson has: An Ethiopian orphan adopted by Swedish parents and raised there where he learned to cook, apprenticed in Switzerland and Austria, and started his illustrious reputation in US at a Swiss restaurant in NYC and now is well known on the food network.
    The Obamas should have been much more local on this as DC has a number of excellent small Indian restuarants. The chef/owners of these local restuarants should have been invited to meet with WH chef and help plan the menu. That would have kept it Indian and also been in the tradition of being more a part of the DC community.
    Happy Thanksgiving to All!


  5. Mr.Murder says:

    Is Amb.Wilson there, since Amb.Burns is not?
    Both should be invited to become part of the wider political discussion. Wilson for his views beyond the scope of immediacy in our mideast policy. He has deep experience with African states and OAS.
    His subsequent blacklisting by the Bushco. enablers within the media has uniquely positioned Wilson and Plame to “think outside the box.” His own background experience gives him the insight into policy formulation for areas and regions that border our hotspots. This ‘middle ground’ is where we must win the battle for hearts and minds in staying ahead of the problems that failed states nurture.
    There’s a bigger picture to paint when we want comprehensive solutions. Wilson is the political equivalent of an Impressionist in that role.


  6. Just another guy says:

    Steve — Great list and great suggestions but as for Google invite, I don’t think the POTUS can invited Schmidt when his loopy DoJ antitrust division is investigating them…


  7. Outraged American says:

    Damn- why did I give up my Indian citizenship to become an
    American? Obviously picked the wrong horse.
    India isn’t like *cough* Israel *cough* — you can’t be dual
    When Cheney was not elected the second time I actually called
    the Indian embassy and asked. Not because I liked the idea of
    going back to India — seriously has anyone posting here ever
    actually BEEN TO INDIA? I wouldn’t worry about India Uber Alles
    too much — but because I was terrified of what Cheney Second
    Act was going to do to this country.
    I can tell you stories about Geffen and Katzenberg, but then
    Steve would have to shut-down the comment section again. I
    remain amazed at Steve’s ability to get along with just about
    everyone, including us.
    On this Thanksgiving Eve I say to all of you, “Namaste” which has
    various interpretations, but the one I like the best is, “I salute
    the god within you.”
    Except for Berman and Emanuel and most of the guest list.
    And with that I’m going out to see if I can find crab to make a
    CURRY with, because that’s what I plan to serve tomorrow. Bet
    the White House curry has nothing on mine, coconut milk and
    fresh masalas are key. Yum….
    Turkey, meh. You can take your turkey and stuff it.


  8. JamesL says:

    I note with mounting despair that this post about the critical importance of who was invited to dinner has been up roughly the same time period during which Obama has finally cast his lot with “finishing the job” of killing Al Qaeda, a process which all recent history reveals as being the prime birthing agent for Al Qaeda. One wonders how many opposing Zbignews are out there toasting themselves and looking forward to barbequeing the innards of America on a sharp stick while keeping the US on life support long enough for most of its nutrition to be sucked out before the final rot sets in. On the eve of the last Thanksgiving of the last decade of “America’s century” I note the advent of another cycle of American military adventurism, repleat with the now normal cast of mercenaries, imported food service laborers, and economically disadvantaged “boys and girls” from Omaha and Taos and Birmingham who think their only way to obtain an education is to sign up for killing people whose language, history, and whang leather toughness they cannot comprehend. I note new signs of the hyperinflation that the last round of foreign military adventurism and national economic fraud is just now beginning to deliver, and the dearth of interest in the price of bread shown by those who purport to broadcast the “news”. I note the enthusiasm of American shoppers who this year will make their mark on history by purchasing energy saving LED Christmas lights instead of old, inefficient incandescents. I read that in the lee of Obama’s leaked Afghanistan troop decision, that he “expects support” for sending more troops and trainloads of dollars to Afghanistan, and am awestruck at the power of the White House bubble that transforms formerly lucid people into arrogant maniacs. I observe that of the bargeloads of dollars broadcast over the waiting arms of American bankers, no errant bills have drifted to help those in my home town, or the town I grew up in, or for any people I know whose now serious economic fragility is the real state of America. I know that not twenty miles from here there are homeless families living in cars. I recall that the National Guard is still largely deployed somewhere other than home, and is no less broken than it was three years ago when its various heads sealed their military future by admitting they needed help. I foresee that the next Katrina sized disaster will be a greater diaster than it need be because a delusional hope that American smart bombs can rebuild Afghanistan. I cringe at key Republicans, bloated by binging at the public trough, whining that the majority of Americans don’t want health care. I think Obama has now sealed his fate, spent his capital, made the choices that will define his presidency. The rest of his time in the bubble will be largely spent avoiding being smothered by the fallout of the actions he has taken prior to this date, Thanksgiving eve, 2009.


  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I think that this State Dinner with India was important – and am glad that the White House put it on”
    Yes, Steve, it probably was important. Too bad the diplomatic possiblities were overshadowed by the pomp.
    Steve, if I need to get to the market, it doesn’t have to be in a Ferrari.
    And I’m quite sure that Spielberg opened up huge diplomatic doors by virtue of his attendance.


  10. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks for your views on State Dinners POA, but I disagree. State dinners are an important part of modern and old statecraft — and they help provide a foundation for moving agendas at home and internationally. I favor them — and would have been there if invited. I realize that many, including you, believe that while wars are underway and while many in the US are losing their jobs — that this kind of affair seems obscene in contrast. I get that — as I worry about US jobless rates and those in harm’s way abroad. But I don’t think that the White House or the President’s actions should be viewed through one lens, even though I believe in the legitimacy of the lens you are talking about. I think that this State Dinner with India was important – and am glad that the White House put it on. best, steve


  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I must admit, after seeing this extravaganza flaunted in our faces by the MSM, I find the whole thing obscene, elitist, and a glaring indicator of how out of touch Washington DC is from the everyday citizens.
    What did this thing cost? Is it too much to ask that these pieces of shit don’t piss away the huge percentage they take out of my check each week? WTF???? TENT??? If thats a God damned “tent” then my house is a gopher hole. And whatdiya suppose that gown cost Michelle?
    What incentive do these primadonna elitist fops have to fix our economy, or TRULY provide a decent health care plan?? They haven’t got a fuckin’ clue what its like down here in Realworldsville. Pretty amazing thinking that just a few blocks away, American citizens, including vets, were dumpster diving for substenance. The more I see out of our “leadership”, the more disgusted I get. Fuck these people, they have forgotten what this nation was supposed to be.


  12. John Waringl says:

    The administration had started with a well-crafted plan of gradually increasing diplomatic pressure on Israel. Domestic politics trumped foreign policy and the diplomatic track was thrown overboard. I don’t think I’m overstating the case.
    Why send an envoy at all when you’re going to cut the rug out from under him?


  13. Elizabeth Miller says:

    Well, I’m just relieved that the Vice President was there. 🙂


  14. Dan Kervick says:

    “I would have not allowed Larry Summers to bring a guest …”
    So they let Summers bring his chin?
    “Zbigniew and Emilie Brzezinski are other obvious DC political personalities who are missing from the roster.”
    B. is probably considered too uncomfortably pro-China and pro-“G2” for the Indian crowd.
    “I’d add Susan Eisenhower and General Wesley Clark. Missing in action both — and they shouldn’t be.”
    Clark supports getting out of Afghanistan, but Obama has apparently decided to get further in, and is looking for Indian support and assistance. Today the messaging began for the rollout next Tuesday.
    Eisenhower would have been interesting. My understanding is that India was fond of Ike.


  15. Dan Kervick says:

    “Where is Dan Kervick?…”
    I’m busy buying food for Thanksgiving. But anyway, it is part of a president’s job to avoid humiliating his country on state occasions.


  16. Dan Kervick says:

    “On another front, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman will be there tonight — and so too will be New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. The connection? Cuba.”
    Maybe they’ll talk about Cuba, but I assume the reason Richardson is there is his long-term interest in US-Indian affairs.


  17. Paul Norheim says:

    I would also like to see Indian author Arundhati Roy being invited – perhaps reading from her recent
    essay: “Democracy`s Failing Light”.


  18. Paul Norheim says:

    Well POA, that`s exactly the kind of role I would expect you to play on such an


  19. SusanGtown says:

    All joking aside, you really do know the town and how all these
    people are inter-connected. I think the White House should be
    hiring you to do a little pre-review of who they let in and who they
    don’t. Very insightful stuff here.
    Thanks for this.


  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I’d give my left nut to be able to wheel Tristan Anderson in on a gurney, and prop him up in plain view of Obamas’s dinner table.


  21. Steve Clemons says:

    Paul — Exactly. And where is Paul Norheim…
    Actually there are others I’ve thought of and will amend comments later.


  22. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Where is Dan Kervick? Where is POA? And where is Steve Clemons?”
    I haven’t mooned anyone in years, so I’d be out of practice for such an event.
    But Dan ‘ud fit right in, I imagine everyone there will be trying to sound smart.


  23. Paul Norheim says:

    “My suggestion is that [Greg Craig] replace Israel/Palestine Envoy George Mitchell”
    May I ask you why, Steve?
    On a general level, people are blaming Obama for the failed Israel/Palestine strategy.
    Apart from pro-Israel Members of Congress, others have mentioned Hillary Clinton, and
    you seem to think that Rahm Emanuel is partly to blame as well (on a recent thread you
    said, responding to another commenter: “Success would help Rahm a bit — but I have to
    say that the Middle East fiasco, various missteps on health care, the shelving of
    climate change, a jobless economic recovery, and the like are pretty dismal results from
    the team running politics and policy in the White House.”)
    Why do you think replacing Mitchell with Craig would help?


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