News & Politics

What Did the Diplomats Who Were Shut Out of Their Own White House Party Miss?


That White House Social Secretary job must be cursed. CNN reports that “as many as 30 senior diplomats” were turned away from a party — held in their honor — at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue last night.

White House flacks attributed it to a clerical error, and that guests were held up from attending the party due to “an error in processing their personal data.” CNN’s Elise Labott says, “The information on their identification didn’t match the names and dates of birth on the check-in list.”

A few diplomats — including Omani ambassador Hunaina Sultan al-Mughairy and Pakistani ambassador Husain Haqqani — were so exasperated, they just left instead. CNN says they were “good-natured about having to miss the cocktails and hors d’oeuvres,” but in case they were wondering what exactly they missed, here’s a rundown of the menu (via the White House pool report):

Diplomatic Reception: The East Room.

The scene: 27-member USMC jazz orchestra in the foyer playing selections from the cocktalian repertoire.Some 200 diplomatic guests meeting and greeting in the foyer and the East Room. Guest list composed of chiefs of mission and guests or charges d’affaires if ambassadors were elsewhere.

East Room action: Two tables laden w/ one-bite lamb chops, shrimp, salmon and assorted nibbles. Scattering of small tables, each w/ six chairs. Two bars. Wall-to-wall dark suits, punctuated by colorful traditional national attire. Air kisses, hugs, two-handed handshakes and occasional senatorials (left hand gripping elbow, right hand grasping hand). Guests taking turns taking pictures of each other.

President Obama and the first lady enter at 5 p.m. and step up to podium on the south wall. Mrs. Obama was wearing a dull yellow sleeveless dress. The president, occasionally referring to his written text on the podium, welcomes guests.

His kicker: “I’m mindful of that old saying about diplomacy — that sometimes more can be accomplished at one party than 20 serious conversations. (Laughter.) So have a wonderful evening, have a wonderful party, and I look forward to all that we can accomplish together, tonight and beyond.”

By the way, most of the unnamed ambassadors were granted anonymity, supposedly to — yes, seriously — “preserve relations between their countries and the White House.”

Must have been one hell of a “one-bite lamb chop” platter.

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