Obama's 'stew' and 'champagne' balancing act for State dinners

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Washington, February 2 (ANI): Veteran observers of the White House believe that U.S. President Barack Obama is trying to tone down the glitz of future state dinners by striking a balance between the arrangements of "champagne" and "stew", to suit the dour national mood and grim economic conditions.

"He's toning it down a bit. I think a lot of people think that's appropriate because of the times," Politico.com quoted Letitia Baldridge, the White House social secretary under President Kennedy, as saying.

"He obviously wants to get things done. He doesn't want anyone to accuse him of overplaying the festivities of it, although I'm sure when there are happier times, the celebratory symbols will come back," she added.

She even said that a big challenge before Obama was to decide which of the White House traditions to indulge, and which to dispense with as the economy continues to tank.

"You can have champagne served, the Marine Band playing, and flowers everywhere...or just have a simple signing ceremony in the oval office," she said.

"Maybe he doesn't know what he wants to direct them to do in terms of rituals. He's under real pressure to be as dignified as past presidents, perhaps even more so...There's so much tension," she added.

She believes that even formal dinners prepared by the White House chefs will have to be reined in.

"You could serve a wonderful stew or, instead, a five-course meal with a fish course and a cheese course-I think now is not the time for that," she said. "If they have a seven-course dinner, you'll find people having a seven-course dinner at their country club," she said.

Desiree Rogers, the new White House social secretary, revealed that she was trying to strike a balance.

"While it is important to be financially prudent, events at The White House are generally of a celebratory nature and that needs to be honoured as well. The events we have hosted so far reflect this and I think you will continue to see these core elements in the future," she said in an e-mail.

Joshua Earnest, a spokesman for the White House, said that the President wanted to ensure that his events showed respect for Americans amid the ongoing financial trouble.

"The tone and tenor of President Obama's activities during his first 10 days in the White House reflect his commitment to bringing relief to the American families and businesses that are weathering the worst economic crisis in nearly a century," Earnest said. (ANI)

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