Today we asked, "Are the Obamas spending too lavishly on entertainment during these harsh economic times?"
Why is that these topics only came up when a black guy was elected? 55%No. 40%Yes. 5%
Readers were generally nonplussed by the criticism of excess at White House state dinners. In fact, readers more or less expect extravagance, and would be offended if dinners were less so.
James D. This issue is another non-issue trap. Either they're spendthrifts with hard-earned taxpayers' money or they're no-class cheapskates who don't understand the dignity of the office. State dinners should be elegant--they represent the country. But if they want some advice on reasonably priced good wine, I'm available on short notice.
Valkayec: What, you expect the President of the United States to serve a $2 bottle of Gallo at a state dinner to important Heads of State? Just because the economy is weak? Some great impression that would make on the leaders of foreign governments: oh, the US is financially bankrupt that even the President cannot serve a good bottle of domestic wine. Just out of curiosity, how much did President Bush spend on a bottle of wine at a state dinner? I don't even recall the issue being raised.
The heart of the controversy lies in the contrast between symbolism and the role of the public servant. Office-holders should be prudent, but in cases like these, being ostentatious sends the right message to both the domestic public and the foreign dignitaries.
Saladdin: No, simply due to the fact that in the US, unlike Japan and the UK, the head of state and head of government are one in the same. I don't really care what the President spends on state dinners. I want the President, when he's entertaining another head of government or state, that he displays the best the country has to offer.