Mark Knoller reports after getting a response to a Freedom of Information Act request 13 months after he placed it. These things are obviously part of any presidency, and certain expenses are to be expected. I don’t think we want to be cheaping out on heads of state, but it’s worth noting how breezily the White House expends 10 times the median household income in this country, and how cagey the most transparent administration in history is about divulging it:
In response to a Freedom of Information request to which it took the State Department 13 months to respond, CBS News has obtained the Office of Protocol’s expense calculations for the first five state dinners of the Obama presidency.
Nov. 24, 2009 – State dinner for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India. $572,187.36
May 19, 2010 – State dinner for President Felipe Calderon of Mexico. $563,479.92
Jan. 19, 2011 – State dinner for President Hu Jintao of China. $412,329.73.
June 7, 2011 – State dinner for Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. $215,883.36
Oct. 13, 2011 – State dinner for President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea. $203,053.34
The State Department has yet to respond to another Freedom of Information request filed seven months ago for its rundown of the expenses for the state dinner honoring British Prime Minister David Cameron on March 14, 2012.
Congress has been waiting for similar information from the State Department even longer.
Tonight, the White House fetes socialist French President Francois Hollande.
Mary J. Blige will perform and the menu is as follows:
Highlighting food from across the country, menu items include a first course of American Osetra Caviar from Illinois, quail eggs from Pennsylvania and 12 varieties of potatoes from farms in New York, Idaho and California. For the salad course, the White House details a Winter Garden Salad that “pays tribute to The First Lady’s White House Kitchen Garden.”
The main course is a dry-aged rib eye beef from a family-owned farm in Colorado that will be served with Jasper Hill Farm Blue Cheese crisp from Vermont.
Finishing the meal are a selection of sweets. There will be a chocolate malted cake that combines bittersweet chocolate from Hawaii and tangerines from Florida and will be served with vanilla ice cream from Pennsylvania. Additionally, the menu boasts fudge made from Vermont maple syrup, lavender shortbread cookies and cotton candy dusted with orange zest.
A selection of wines priced between $30 to $65 will be offered from California, Washington and Monticello, Va., which both Obama and Hollande visited Monday.
One wonders how this man of the proletariat can justify his attendance at this one-percenter affair. Sure, dumping the first lady and causing national confusion about exactly which paramour might attend a state dinner is veritably a point of French pride, but dining on a $500,000 dinner while Americans remain woefully un- and underemployed? Quel dommage.