Obama not to attend Gridiron Club dinnerMarch 17th, 2009 - 6:41 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, Mar.17 (ANI): President Barack Obama has decided that he is too busy to attend the Gridirons annual banquet later this month.
He will be the first president since Grover Cleveland to skip the white-tie-and-tails affair in his first year in office.
The official line from the Gridiron Club a society of Washington reporters, columnists, and bureau chiefs is, We understand.
But some Gridiron veterans make clear they dont understand.
Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page said, People feel uncommonly saddened, miffed and burned. I dont think he understands the implications of not coming to the club in the first year. Its not your ordinary state dinner. I think it would be helpful for him and his relations with the Washington establishment to come to the club.
Beyond bruised feelings among the pundit class, Obamas snub is a revealing cultural moment.
Gridiron has for decades been an inner sanctum of Washingtons political press corps. The clubs mostly aging members were considered highly prestigious because they said so and because they had the ability to summon the capitals political elite to a spring frolic of skits and songs.
But if a young and glamorous president decides he can afford to blow off an august and tradition-bound institution, one has to at least entertain the possibility that this institution may not be quite as august as its members assumed.
The rejection was heightened by the thats-the-night-I-wash-my-hair explanation the Gridiron got from Obama.
At first, Gridiron members heard through back channels that the Obama family would be in Chicago during the Obama daughters spring break from school. Then, on Friday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said at his daily briefing that the family would actually be in Camp David on March 21, the night of the dinner.
Thats not exactly out of town by presidential standards in fact, it is about a 20-minute helicopter ride if Obama had decided the event were important enough.
According to one member, We got the impression from talking to our senior members who had talked to senior people at the White House that Mrs. Obama had made the decision about the familys spring break and no one on the senior staff was about to challenge that. (ANI)
Tags: back channels, barack obama, bureau chiefs, chicago tribune, chicago tribune columnist, clarence page, columnist clarence, gridiron club dinner, grover cleveland, helicopter ride, inner sanctum, political elite, robert gibbs, secretary robert, spring frolic, state dinner, washington establishment, washington reporters, white house press, white tie and tails