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Time for accountability at the White House

By Ed O'Keefe

The Post's Sally Quinn opines:

Desiree Rogers
White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers

Now it turns out that there was a third uninvited guest at the White House state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, this one a member of the Indian delegation. It was enough of a shock that the would-be stars Tareq and Michaele Salahi had crashed. But a third? The Salahi story may have been delicious, but the implications of the appalling breach of security are immense. The president could have been assassinated. And had that happened, the Office of the White House Social Secretary would have been as culpable as the Secret Service.

One of the first lessons any administration needs to learn is that somebody has to take the hit for whatever goes wrong. If another culprit is not identified, the president gets the blame. One incident after another in the past few months has shown that members of this administration would rather lay low and let Barack Obama be the target. This has got to stop.

Many in Washington wondered why the director of the Secret Service, Mark Sullivan, did not resign over the state dinner security breach. At least Sullivan testified before Congress on the subject. White House social secretary Desirée Rogers came under fire after the Salahi scandal erupted. From the start, Rogers was an unlikely choice for social secretary. She was not of Washington, considered by many too high-powered for the job and more interested in being a public figure (and thus upstaging the first lady) than in doing the gritty, behind-the-scenes work inherent in that position. That Rogers stayed and that the White House refused to allow her to testify before Congress reflected badly on the president. He, not a member of his staff, ended up looking incompetent. Although it has emerged that a State Department protocol error is to blame for the presence of a third uninvited guest, both Rogers and Sullivan should step down.

Continue reading Sally Quinn's column>>>

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 5, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Administration, From The Pages of The Post  
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In our life time, the White House has not seen an event to rival the State Dinner that Desiree Rogers conceived and produced on behalf of the Obama Administration. But the press was mum on that, waiting to pounce on something that would deny the genius of Desiree Rogers' achievements. And so when the Secret Service made a mistake, DC's major media teamed up to blame it on Desiree Rogers, issuing a crescendo of criticism that faulted Desiree Rogers for everything from sitting in the front row at a fashion show, sitting down to dinner at the White House (which a Kennedy Social Secretary said happens all of the time), obtaining high paying jobs, having powerful friends and a former husband who is rich; being rich herself, and waving from a float during a Mardi Gras parade . . . They are so mad at Desiree Rogers for being sooo . . . . good. And they are intent on punishing her, for exceeding their expectations. Thanks to them we get to see how things work when race and gender combine. Unlike Katie Couric and Carly Fiorina, who collected millions for jobs they failed at, while their reputations remained intact, Desiree Rogers keeps on succeeding, and the socialites of Washington DC can stand it. Where were these pundits during the 91 breaches of White House security before this one.

Posted by: Sometimey | January 6, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

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