On the night of the Obamas’ first state dinner, White House social secretary Desirée Rogers glided past the rope line of press and photographers at 6:53 p.m., pausing to boast, “We are very excited . . . everything looks great.” Little did she know that the evening would end up tarnishing her vaunted reputation as an overachieving perfectionist.
Virginia socialites Michaele and Tareq Salahi managed to get past Secret Service, proceed into the dinner — uninvited, the White House says — and pose for pictures with VIP guests and shake hands with the president. Now questions have been raised over whether Rogers, whose office drew up the guest list, was so busy basking in the limelight that she failed to notice what was unfolding in the shadows.
On Thursday, a House committee wants answers from her about how this could happen. A key question: Was anyone from Rogers’s office staffing the front gate? Even though Secret Service has accepted full responsibility for the security lapse, Rogers also has indicated that none of her staff was present when the Salahis arrived. As a result, her managerial style is under scrutiny. And her Hollywood persona, fairly or unfairly, could prove to be the most damning evidence of all.