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Gossip in Wonderland
January 09, 2012
11:30 AM EDT
A recent book titled "The Obamas" is the author's take, reflecting her own opinions, on a remarkably strong relationship between the President and First Lady – both of whom share an unwavering commitment to each other, and to improving the lives of Americans. The book is about a relationship between two people whom the author has not spoken to in years. In fact, the author did not interview the Obamas for the book so the emotions and private moments described in the book, though often seemingly ascribed to the President and First Lady, reflect little more than the author's own thoughts. These second-hand accounts are staples of every Administration in modern political history and are often exaggerated. And as those who have worked in this Administration will tell you, the scenes depicted in the book do not accurately portray how well the East and West Wings work together.
One of the anecdotes that has received wide attention has been a supposedly secret Alice in Wonderland themed Halloween party in 2009. This was an event for local school children from the Washington DC area and for hundreds of military families, and certainly nothing that the White House was ashamed of.
While acknowledging that the press was allowed to attend, which in itself would seem to cast doubt on any alleged secrecy, the author contends that there was "no media coverage beyond the standard, limited pool report noting the president's presence." We would invite all readers to read that extremely detailed and colorful pool report, or the stories that emerged from the party, and decide for themselves. In addition, the event was previewed in the official White House Daily Guidance and discussed by then-Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on camera from the podium -- before he dressed up as Darth Vader at the party of course. The White House released videos and photos of the event on whitehouse.gov and our Flickr account, hardly the actions of a conspiratorial cover-up. The author attempts to paint the fact that some involved in the film attended and were not singled out in previews of the event as an attempt to hide their involvement -- this was a large event, word of their involvement was certain to be reported, and indeed it was.
This mischaracterization of a celebration in support of military families is unfortunate but also instructive. When book authors attempt to stretch isolated incidents into grandiose insights, they end up going down the rabbit hole.