While the Salahis were on Capitol Hill today setting a new record for taking the Fifth, I was at the White House paying the price for their miscreant behavior. Remember the good old days when the President and First Lady would stand in a receiving line to meet all their guests and have photos taken for your den walls or, okay, Facebook? Take my word for it: Not so long ago that was standard procedure at the White House. But those darned Salahis have taken away our God-given right to a handshake and a photo op.
Just to recap: I was invited to a White House reception today in honor of National Mentoring Month. The young woman I mentor and I were invited through the Orphan Foundation of America and I have to confess we were some kind of excited! I had prepared something pithy yet charming to say in the receiving line and had advised my mentee to do the same. We had the requisite photo IDs and had sent in our social security numbers, date of birth and full names a few days ago.
But the Post-Salahi White House is a new and battened-down ship. We had our IDs checked twice -- carefully. And, at the exact same moment as Tareq and Michaele were figuring out new ways of quoting their counsel's advice, we were slowly winding our way through layers of security. As the most famous party-crashers in Washington profit from their rude behavior, two hundred people who mentor or are mentored made their way to the East Room as invited guests of the Obamas.
Through a fluke or a case of mistaken identity, my mentee and I were asked to sit on the stage behind the podium. You know those clips on TV of people behind the President yawning or picking their noses or dozing off? That was not us. We were fairly humming with excitement at being in such close proximity to President and Mrs. Obama. It was a lovely program. Both Obamas are comfortable public speakers and, on the first anniversary of taking office, they seemed happy to be talking about something that didn't involve a natural or national disaster.
At the end of the program, both Obamas turned and shook each of our hands. They were gracious and warm. But I was still thinking there would be a receiving line since only a handful of us were on the stage. Wouldn't all the others in the audience get to meet them? Not since the Salahis. Before you knew it, the President and First Lady had exited stage left and we were being urged to vacate the East Room.
But my hour or so in the Obama White House was memorable and sweet. In the end, it wasn't about politics or who I knew or what I wore but about something substantial -- mentoring. The Salahis may be a footnote but the young people in the White House today were the main event.
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