Blogging (again) from the White House

Blogging (again) from the White House:
If I knew, I would start this post by explaining why I (along with a
guest) was (were) invited to a White House holiday reception last
night. (Here are some photos,
and, before I forget: my wife agreed to serve as my guest, and I feel
she did a super job.) I can say without any doubt, I was NOT invited
because I’m a blogger, And I wasn’t requested to use this blog to
spread to the seven people who read it how swell the White House is
decorated this year. Although, it is, and I will. (Frankly, because
party decorations are not my strong suit, I had to keep asking my wife
questions like, “How would you describe that sugar looking stuff on the
fruit over there?” because I wanted to be able to call it something
other than sugar looking stuff on fruit. For the record, according to
my wife, the technical description is, “sugar-looking stuff.”)

So, again, let me make this perfectly clear (to quote a previous White House occupant): I was not invited in order to blog the party. But the earlier meeting I had with the President about which I blogged and about which Dan Gillmor wrote in his tremendous book, We the Media
(how’s that for a product placement?), did help renew an old
acquaintance with someone at the White House who, after attending the
reception, I am guessing was the individual who was kind enough to get
me included on the invitation list. However, as I am a blogger, I felt
duty-bound (isn’t there some blogger code on this point?) to let the
seven readers of this blog know what it’s like to attend one of the
series of parties the President and First Lady host during December
(tonight was the second of 26 that will take place in the White House,
according to the deputy social secretary who was extremely kind to us
even after I asked her if she were a guide).

A couple weeks
ago, I received a call on my cell phone (“the White House has my cell
phone number,” is odd for me to say, but that’s the only phone number
they’ve ever called me on — hey, and no complaints, really…I have
lots of free minutes) inviting me and a guest to the reception. A few
days later, the official invitation arrived so I felt confidant the
phone call was not a prank by one of my friends prone to such pranking.

not that great at estimating crowds, but I guess there were about
400-500 people at the reception. It was like a really large wedding
reception, if, that is, the reception were held in a museum filled with
priceless art and decorated by dozens of volunteers who, to the
amazement of those who were admiring their craftsmanship, must have
worked on the decorations for months. There is a music theme to all the
decorations this year. The photos
I’ve posted do a much better job than I can of explaining what that
means. However, everywhere one looks, there is something subtle about
music, including the use of the historic White House Steinway piano.

never thought about the logistical challenge of processing such a large
number of people through having their photo made with the President and
First Lady. (Never again judge a President by whom he has his picture
made with. There must be some kind of Guinness Record for these things,
but afterwards, my wife and I marveled when trying to do the math on
how many thousands of people have a photo made with the President and
Mrs. Bush in the course of a year.)

I’ve toured the White House
on a few occasions, but always the “in front of the ropes” kind of
tour. Always, the guide has said something like, “this is still ‘a
working house’ and used for social and state functions.” In my
gee-whiz, tourist mode, this made sense to me. However, as a
participant in one of those functions, it finally got through to me (I
think it was when I realized I could sit down on the sofa in the red
room) that the part of of White House one can tour through is not a

I feel that it is not appropriate for me to mention any
of the guests who I recognized. I will admit that I was pleasantly
surprised that I knew a half-dozen or so other guests (some prominent
Nashvillians) but unlike me, I could easily understand why they were
invited. And, as the crowd seemed to me to indicate the reception was a
sort of “business-types night,” I recognized a few faces of some high
profile corporate leaders. But it was far from being a parade of
recognizable CEOs.

Sorry, I’ve run out of time. I’ll add more later today.

More: Okay, where was I? I was going to mention a couple other things that happened a little out of the ordinary. A guy in front of us set off the radioactive detector (or whatever machine it was) when going through security. Apparently he had gone through a some type of medical exam earlier in the day and still had some residual traces of detectible radition in his system. Nice to know there are machines that sensitive.

I’ll wrap this up by saying that the most enjoyable conversations I had were with the many members of the military who were in attendance as escorts and attendants (I’m sure they have other terms to describe what they do, so I apologize). One of them told me that their White House duty was a “second assignment,” and that they were assigned to other “primary duty” at nearby military installations. They “volunteer” for White House function duty, she explained.

To specific questions I’ve been e-mailed: Yes, Karl Rove was there but I did not meet him and no, I am not a Karl Rove “operative.” And, duh, I should have looked, but I do not know the name of the vinyard supplying the wine. See, it’s overlooking those kind of details that make me know I have no future in society reporting.

8 thoughts on “Blogging (again) from the White House

  1. Wow, what an exceptional opportunity you’ve gotten..twice. It’s great that you can share it with the rest of the hoi polloi via live blogging.

    Sort of makes my plan to “live blog” the VIP party before the grand opening of Nashville’s Coyote Ugly seem less prestigious.

  2. I nominate Condi Rice for president ’08, and Rex as VP.

    But I also share Roboto’s interest in the Coyote Ugly liveblogging, and will be keeping a sharp eye out for news at TNF. Even if the pathetic “All The Rage” sent one of their editors to try out (and get hired, apparently). ATR – 30% content (not that good, and that’s being kind), 70% fluff/adverts. I’m not impressed, even with all the pictures of scantily clad Nashvillians. Sue me.

  3. Shawn, re: the RNC donation. There were people in the room who are legendary political fund raisers. However, they’ve gotten that way by not calling on me.

  4. Speaking of scantily clad, Rex, I have overheard some fashionistas in your employ who are eager for insights into what is worn at these affairs. They were disappointed that you failed to post any of those “In Style” photos they expect from such events – aside from the portrait of Hillary looking smashing in black (appropriate for mourning the demise of her presidential hopes, Santa Claus wish list in front of the painting notwithstanding).

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