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Posted by:Thomas Lifson
The coming weekend will be a painful one for Desiree Rogers, the beautiful former White House Social Secretary who discovered that outshining Michelle Obama is a very, very bad idea. After following the Obamas from Chicago to DC and entering the history books as the first African-American White House Social Secretary, Ms. Rogers appeared to revel in her status as Michelle’s Chicago buddy, and demonstrated a fashion sense that took advantage of her naturally slender frame and role as social gatekeeper to become (however briefly) possibly the most glamorous African American woman in the country.
Michelle and Desiree in happier White House times
If Oprah was too fat to remain Michelle’s buddy, Desiree’s problem may have been being too slender.
That gig did not last very long, of course. Desiree was given her walking papers after 14 months, though allowed to “step down” so as to retain a shred of dignity in the wake of her termination. Claiming a role as booster of the Obama brand and letting it be known that she holds the key to Brand Obama was probably not all that smart, especially for a woman who holds a Harvard MBA, where they do teach about managing personal relationships. Rogers also claimed a major role in the failed Obama initiative to bring the Olympics to Chicago, an embarrassing rejection that absolutely could not be blamed on Barack Obama, even though he traveled to Copenhagen to lobby for the honor only to not even make second place.
The pain of exile from the White House must have been eased by the next job she assumed, CEO of Johnson Publications, the black media empire that includes Ebony and Jet, and, most importantly, the BET Cable television empire. But for all her status in Chicago as head of the largest black-owned enterprise in the city and the country, Desiree is being frozen out this weekend at the wedding of the decade, as far as the Chicago black social scene is concerned. Michael Sneed of the Chicago Sun-Times reports:
The president is going.
The first lady is going.
First daughters Sasha and Malia will be there.
But Desiree Rogers, the first African-American to become the White House Social Secretary, has been dissed.
Translation: Rogers has not been invited to the backyard Kenwood wedding this weekend for the daughter of the ultimate White House insider/Rogers’ former “closer-than-glue” best friend, White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett.
For those who do not follow the ins-and-outs of Versailles-on-the-Potomac, Valerie Jarrett is widely regarded as THE most powerful White House advisor of all. Former Obama chiefs of staff Rahm Emanuel and Bill Daley crossed her, and both are back in Chicago. Incidentally, they aren’t invited to the wedding either.
Sneed explains the depth of the diss:
“Valerie and Desiree were once very close; Sunday dinner mates; part of a powerful clique of African-American Chicago women, which also included Johnson Publishing chairman Linda Johnson Rice,” said a top source familiar with the group. “Michelle Obama was not part of that elite Chicago clique.”
The wedding snub is more than social; Rogers watched Jarrett’s daughter grow up.
The snub contains salt; Rogers’ ex-husband and close friend, financial guru John Rogers, has been invited.
The former social diva is also not on the list of African-American royalty – and members of the new Obama social order – gathering Friday night before the wedding for a backyard barbecue at the Kenwood home of attorney/developer Allison Davis; and the get-together at the president’s Kenwood home, where he will stay while entertaining pals Marty Nesbitt and Eric Whitaker.
Allison Davis, by the way, gave Barack Obama his only job as a lawyer, where he worked for such prize clients as Tony Rezko, now a guest of the federal prison system. Davis’s home, where the barbecue will be held, is just blocks from the mansion purchased by Barack and Michelle with considerable financial assistance from Rezko, a move the president now calls “bone-headed.”
Does this all matter? Is it merely catty, trivial, gossipy trash unworthy of a serious political website? In a more serious administration, where cabinet secretaries actually met with the president more than once or twice and exercised substantive responsibilities instead of “czars” personally beholden to the first family, where well defined roles and responsibilities marked the White House bureaucracy, and where the first lady confined her role to symbolic activities and advocacy, the answer would be yes.
But the Obama White House is a different sort of animal entirely. Like a decadent monarchy, the favor of the potentate and the potentate’s wife count for much too much in the Obama administration, and the social life, celebrity, and glamour of life at the top seem to eat up far more time than convening cabinet meetings.
We are reduced to reading tea leaves in the social calendar to understand the power dynamics of our national leadership. Another sign of an incipient banana republic.