I’ll admit, I’ve been caught off-guard by the folks who think something sinister is a-foot in all the fluffy, soft-focus press coverage that’s been spent on the White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers. I’m firmly in the camp that a black woman in a highly visible position is a good thing, especially considering there’s room to spare and the Obama Administration is full of admirable black women from the First Lady and her media domination on down.
I mean, she doesn’t bother me and I don’t get the speculation or understand where it comes from. I find her Zulu Queen, high fashion, high brow hijinks hilarious and a great break from the typical ways black people are portrayed in the news. (*Cough* angry *cough* crackheads!)
Is she perfect? No one is. Is she ambitious? Of course, everyone in the Obama Administration is. But I’m still pretty sure she’s a long-time family friend-turned-employee who knows her success is tied to the Obamas’ success.
Well, Politico explained for me why or where or how this has come about, pointing out that some people simply don’t like the idea of a social secretary who isn’t virtually invisible.
More after the jump.
(B)ut her out-front approach to what is normally an understated staff job has raised eyebrows in certain circles — a certain tsk-tsking privately among some in the society set that she might be ever-so-slightly too out in front. Rogers’ talk in the Journal of nurturing a “Brand Obama” from the secretary’s post induced a few cringes among some who said the president should be pure Main Street, not Madison Avenue.
“My impression is that there is more public eye attached to this social secretary than ever before. White House staff tend to do their jobs quietly and then they recede,” said William Seale, author of “The President’s House.” “There is a time, within my memory, that being in the public eye would have been looked down upon as inappropriate, but times change.”
Rogers, however, sees her role as one that perfectly fits the Obama White House — both in the public’s interest in being part of it and in the Obamas’ interest in getting more people involved inwhat goes on inside the executive mansion.
Rogers explains in the Politico piece that people are excited about the Obama White House, want to know what’s going on there and want to be part of it. As the social secretary she’s the gatekeeper and the image driver. Perhaps all the attention was inevitable, especially if the President and First Lady want a break from the limelight and someone has to go out there and put on the show. Some past social secretaries interviewed for the piece backed Rogers’ view.
Some of her predecessors agree — notably Letitia Baldridge, social secretary in the Kennedy administration, who recalled what it’s like to have a president and a first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, that the world couldn’t seem to get enough of. Baldridge recalled that, like Rogers, she could at times be a stand-in to feed the insatiable appetite for the media for all things Kennedy.
“Jackie enchanted the world, and she didn’t always want to deal with the press, so I stepped out and I was a sad substitution,” Baldridge recalled. “Still, I was better than nothing.”
“There is the danger of too much publicity in every job in Washington, but Desiree is smart enough to pull back,” Baldridge added. “As it is, she is doing the first lady a great service by satisfying the interest in the first lady, and she is getting the administration’s message out.”
In other randomness: Politico posted footage of Rogers and White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett getting the once over while trying to get into the White House Correspondent’s Dinner this weekend. Apparently the security needed some ID before believing they were who they said they were.
Someone is soooo unemployed right now.
To the ladies’ credit, both were completely cool about it, whipped out the IDs and moved on. (Via We Shall Overcome … In Couture!)