Tonight is President Obama's first state dinner at the White House. For weeks, Washingtonians have speculated who would be on (and left off) the list. Of course the typical administration officials--Rahm Emanuel, VP Biden, Treasury Secretary Geithner, Speaker Pelosi--are all on the list. The White House also made it a point to invite notable Indian-Americans to the soiree, which makes sense since the party is for the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.
Instead of hosting the dinner in the White House State Dining Room, Prez Obama's first dinner will be in a tent on the South Lawn. It's a pretty disgusting day here in Washington. It's raining, cloudy, and cold. Luckily for the President and his guests, this isn't just any tent. It's heated, with walls, windows, and a hardwood floor. Their expected to host about 320 guests at the dinner--bigger than most dinners held by former President George W. Bush, but smaller than the 700+ guests invited by President Clinton.
As I said, Hollywood will intersect with its Indian counterpart tonight. LaLaLand heavyweights, Steven Spielberg, David Geffen, and Jeffrey Katzenberg will all be in attendence. Jonathan Martin at Politico already reported seeing actor Blair Underwood arriving around noon. Hollywood super agent, and brother of COS Rahm Emanuel, Ari Emanuel will also have a seat at the table. Some of the biggest celebrities coming are from India. Actress Ashwarya Rai (aka the most beautiful women in the world) and actor Ahbishek Bachchan flew in from India just for the occasion. For those of you who don't know who this power couple is, google them. They're like the punjabi version of Brad and Angelina.
Foodwise, the menu has been kept pretty much under wraps. At last report, herbs from the White House were going to be worked in as well as honey from the White House beehive. Also, the dinner itsef will have 'Indian touches.'
From the looks of it, this will be an impressvie first state dinner for the President. WH Social Secretary, Desiree Rogers was trying to keep costs down by using more of what belongs to the White House and renting fewer items than in the past. Tonight's china is a pattern selected by former first lady, Laura Bush. It's a Lenox gilt-edge green basket weave border which will perfectly match the gold ballroom chairs with green cushions being set out for the event.