NPR logo White House Party Crashers Expose Social Secretary Lapse

White House Party Crashers Expose Social Secretary Lapse

Here's one likely result from the after-action review of the White House state dinner crashers affair which we shall call Gategate: Someone from the White House Social Secretary's office will be assigned to the White House entries from hereon in with a list of the invited guests to official functions.

White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo hide caption

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo

If that happens, it would be a back-to-the-future solution since that's what was done during the most previous Bush Administration.

Many people in Washington who've received the coveted invitation to, say, a White House Christmas party have had the experience of encountering not just the Secret Service at the gate but a representative from the Social Secretary's office with a clipboard who checks to see if the person standing before her or him is on the official list of invitees.

If your name wasn't on the list, you didn't get in. And even if it was on the list as a guest of the person who actually received the invitation but the official invitee didn't show up, you didn't get in. The Social Secretary acted as the last line of defense.

True, the Secret Service erred in letting the weird, reality-show couple past and has said as much.

But all the embarrassment to the Obama White House could have been avoided if Social Secretary Desiree Rogers, a close friend of the president and first lady, had followed the past practice of posting representatives from her office at the entry point. (With that last line, I may have ensured that I will never be on the invite list for a White House event but then I wasn't going to be on it anyway.)

That's why it's a no-brainer that in the wake of Gategate, there will be pressure to reinstate the previous practice of having someone from the Social Secretary's office close by for last minute consultations at the security gate.

We'll have a chance to see in the next few weeks what changes, if any, are made since the White House will be opening itself up to thousands of guests for the annual Christmas parties for congressional, military and journalistic guests.