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Linda R. Monk, J.D.

Linda R. Monk, J.D.

Posted: November 30, 2009 07:56 PM

Diva In The White House: Does Desiree Rogers Have The Obamas' Back?

What's Your Reaction:

The biggest question stemming from Gate-crasher-gate is why somebody in the White House didn't sit on the Salahis, after two Washington Post reporters at the state dinner identified them as uninvited wannabes of unsavory reputation.

Roxanne Roberts, in her Reliable Source blog today on the Washington Post website, emphatically stated that she asked not one but two White House staffers to verify the names of the Salahis and explain why they were not on the approved guest list.

Said Roberts: "This was before the Salahis went through the receiving line with the president, and they could have been pulled aside and quietly questioned."

Did nobody in the White House actually follow up on this tip? And if not...why not?

Roberts, who has covered state dinners for 20 years, came to this conclusion: "I can only assume the staffers believed anyone already inside the White [House] was allowed to be there. Big mistake, and I'm grateful nothing serious happened."

Sorry, guys, but that's how you endanger a president. Not to mention his guest, the prime minister of India. This is the White House, not Entourage (although Ari Emanuel, Rahm's brother, was invited). Everyone, repeat everyone, is responsible for President Obama's security. The Secret Service officers are not just the rent-a-cops at the front gate.

Perhaps such pedestrian concerns as guest lists have escaped the notice of Desiree Rogers, the White House social secretary, whose job it was to plan and execute the Obama's first state dinner. In an April 30 interview with WSJ, the Wall Street Journal's magazine, she focused on using her Harvard MBA to "brand" the Obama presidency using the White House as its "crown jewel." That may be good business speak, but it doesn't translate as good public service.

Said Rogers: "You have to think about it [my job], in my mind, almost like a business. Otherwise, you never get there. You get caught in linen hell and flower hell, list hell."

As they say, the devil is in the details. And if Ms. Rogers is not going to attend to them, she better damn well make sure somebody else does. A social secretary is normally a work horse, not a show horse.

A longtime Chicago friend of the Obamas, Rogers established her diva role in June by making quick work of Jackie Norris, the First Lady's then chief of staff. Norris had been instrumental to Obama's victory in the Iowa caucus. When Norris insisted on having Rogers report to her directly, not the First Lady, out she went -- and in came Susan Sher, another one of the Obama's Chicago friends.

The Obamas came to the White House with a Chicago clique that can sometimes act as though they made the president, not the other way around. Not that there's anything wrong with having friends -- it's just that they seldom make the best employees, especially after you become the leader of the free world. Better to have your friends on the outside, where they can do you the most good, rather than on the inside where you have to clean up after them.

Wouldn't a good friend be happy with that?

 
 
 

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