November 1 2012

Why Does Entertaining in the Obama White House Cost so Much?

Charlotte Hays

In a post entitled "Marbella on the Potomac," I've already commented on the unprecedented amount of money spent on entertaining by the Obama White House.

I am certain that you share my desire that our state dinners and other ceremonial occacions shine, showing the world that this democracy knows how to do things right. 

But a million dollars for a state dinner for the president of Mexico? Before the Obamas, the largest budget for a White House party was $190,000. The Obama administration reportedly routinely chalks up half a million dollar price tags for dinners.

In the earlier post, I made the point that this lavish spending reflects the view of government officials that they have evolved into a New Class. This New Class is entitled, in its veiw, to all sorts of extravagant perks paid for by those dullards known as taxpayers. But the cause of this mindbogglling spending may have an additional cause: cronyism.

The Examiner reports:

When Bryan Rafanelli orchestrated an extravagant White House state dinner hosted by President and First Lady Michelle Obama for British Prime Minister David Cameron last March, the celebrity event planner's business partner, Mark Walsh, was close by.

Walsh is deputy chief of protocol in the U.S. State Department and co-owner of the Boston-based Rafanelli Events Management firm.

The protocol office oversees and pays for all White House events involving foreign dignitaries, including payments to the Rafanelli firm. Walsh was appointed to the highly coveted position in 2011 despite a marked absence of international diplomatic experience on his resume.

The deputy chief of protocol oversees visits of heads of state and top diplomats who meet with the president, vice president or secretary of state.

Previous chief executives used only government employees to plan White House state dinners.

Who on earth would have thought that the protocol office—the protocol office!—would end up looking like a boondoggle?

One word: unseemly.

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