Eating dinner at the White House: Not priceless (with poll!)

posted at 12:35 pm on July 31, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Wagyu beef steaks: $200.  Arugula salads: $25.  Case of Bud Light: $20, tops.  Eating all  this at the White House: not priceless after all.

Barack Obama has a new idea of hospitality at the White House that may delight class warriors, but has at least one former Kennedy staffer aghast.  Obama invited the CEOs of major American corporations to dinner to strategize about reviving the economy.  Despite a reputation as hostile to free enterprise, Obama showed his credentials as a small-business entrepreneur by converting the Oval Office into a restaurant start-up:

Four of the most powerful business leaders in America arrived at the White House one day last month for lunch with President Barack Obama, sitting down in his private dining room just steps from the Oval Office.

But even for powerful CEOs, there’s no such thing as a free lunch: White House staffers collected credit card numbers for each executive and carefully billed them for the cost of the meal with the president.

The White House defended the unusual move as a way to avoid conflicts of interest. But the Bush administration didn’t charge presidential guests for meals, one former official said, and at least one etiquette expert found the whole thing unseemly – suggesting it was a serious breach of protocol.

“I’m sure they have their political reasons for doing that, but I think it’s not what quote, hospitality, unquote is all about,” said Letitia Baldrige, who headed Jacqueline Kennedy’s White House staff in the early 1960s. “We’ve got to relax about this. To have people to the White House and worry about the price of things is laughable.”

Hey, now, let’s not overreact.  I often invite people to my house for some grill and the First Mate’s excellent desserts, and of course we pull out the credit-card authorization device and run the guest cards through it!  Who invites people to their homes, especially to get their advice, and doesn’t charge them for the privilege of providing it?

This calls for a poll. Do you think that Obama has the right idea in making his guests pay for their food, or do you consider that an embarrassment for the people of America?

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Comment pages: 1 2

I just wonder if they have a valid sales tax id#. If so, I would like an audit of their quarterly payments.

ralph steadman on July 31, 2009 at 2:36 PM

Classless pieces of sh%t…………..

Seven Percent Solution on July 31, 2009 at 2:40 PM

I see a conflict of interest that we pay for Michelle’s food yet she was basically a lobbyist for her hospital

Rbastid on July 31, 2009 at 2:46 PM

If Obama is charging his ‘guests’ for meals, then isn’t he running a restaurant without a license?

ProfessorMiao on July 31, 2009 at 2:56 PM

These are campaign contributions in disguise. There is no other way they funds can be classified.

Wagyu Beef??? Nice “Buy American” example.

This guy is a TOTAL DIP$HIT!!

PappaMac on July 31, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Too funny! Clem Cadiddlehopper strikes again.

james23 on July 31, 2009 at 3:04 PM

Not how do they tip, but who do they tip. Is there a hat check too? He is creating jobs.

Kissmygrits on July 31, 2009 at 3:11 PM

Wonder what he charged Henry Gates and Sergeant Crowley for the beer and snacks yesterday.

Susanboo on July 31, 2009 at 3:19 PM

“Waiter? We’re not that hungry, just bring some chili con carne and crackers, and a pitcher of Bud Lite.”

Chris_Balsz on July 31, 2009 at 3:23 PM

I always enjoyed Mr. Creasote.
Thanks Ed!

elderberry on July 31, 2009 at 3:28 PM

Someone who knows how needs to start some FOIA requests for the list of people Obama has invited to dine at the White House. The next request would then be for the lists of people he has billed for those meals. Michelle’s invites should be looked at also.

My guess is some union officials would show up on guest lists, especially from the UAW and SEIU.

I wonder; does he bill the people he has over for the weekly entertainment parties? Lots of snacks and drinks consummed there.

Yoop on July 31, 2009 at 3:31 PM

The White House is the people’s house, where is my cut?

Wade on July 31, 2009 at 3:46 PM

Don’t buy the bubble gum in the mens room, it tastes just like rubber.

Wade on July 31, 2009 at 3:50 PM

But how do you tip?
Just the tip, just for a second, just to see how it feels

LimeyGeek on July 31, 2009 at 1:56 PM

It had to be you!

TXMomof3 on July 31, 2009 at 3:53 PM

If I were one of them, I would have declined to give my card and just said, “Put it on my TARP”

DrAllecon on July 31, 2009 at 1:28 PM
ROTFLMAO. Crying too because it is almost true.

highhopes on July 31, 2009 at 1:30 PM

Thanks :) It’s better to laugh than cry if you can help it, but it ain’t always easy!

DrAllecon on July 31, 2009 at 4:57 PM

Hope these CEO’s are all subscribers to LifeLock.

pilamaye on July 31, 2009 at 5:08 PM

You can take Barack Obama out of the ‘hood… but you can’t take the ‘hood out of Barack Obama.

The guy is so low rent. I will never ever comprehend how he baffled an entire country with his transparent bull$hit. Maybe it’s because I’ve always refused to drink the tap water so I never did, nor do. He should be selling Sham-Wows, or icecubes to Eskimo’s. I’m just gobsmacked.

But like White House damage-control specialist Eric Dezenhall said himself, “Obama’s gift is making gimmicks look visionary.”


SilverStar830 on July 31, 2009 at 5:22 PM

serious breach of protocol

In this administration? No, never, perish the thought.

I R A Darth Aggie on July 31, 2009 at 5:28 PM

I wonder whether when union leaders are invited to the White House, will Obama make them pay for their own dinners? Many of them are wealthy well beyond Obama’s definition of the term.

Conservative in NOVA on July 31, 2009 at 5:39 PM

I wonder whether when union leaders are invited to the White House, will Obama make them pay for their own dinners? Many of them are wealthy well beyond Obama’s definition of the term.

Conservative in NOVA on July 31, 2009 at 5:39 PM

Or, if free dinners versus “pay for your own” dinners are based on what party you are in. Hmmmmmmm, I wonder….

Susanboo on July 31, 2009 at 6:32 PM

Pfah, I only tip people that give good service. This is the White House under the Obama administration.

scrubbiedude on July 31, 2009 at 10:31 PM

Comment pages: 1 2