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The Salahis and the red carpet rules

My colleague Jo-Ann Armao addressed my concerns about the seriousness of the state dinner breach by Michaele and Tareq Salahi. It’s clear that there was a major security lapse.

Much fuzzier is the question of whether the Salahis broke any laws while crashing the party. But I’ll tell you one thing: They’re guilty of breaking the Red Carpet Rules.

There are two kinds of red carpets. First, there's the step-and-repeat procession, where event organizers make high-profile guests available for the assembled photographers (often with the event and sponsors’ names emblazoned on the backdrop). It's called a step-and-repeat because you stop and pose for a photo, then take a few steps along the carpet, and repeat. Plenty of shameless people have barged their way into this invitation-only queue. Their comeuppance: disdainful looks and even the lowered cameras of the paparazzi.

Then there's what I call the all-skate -- which was the set-up at the White House state dinner. That's where bold-faced names (and bald-faced scammers, apparently) and everyday folks walk by the photographers. But unless one of the paparazzi calls your name to get your picture, you do not stop. Sure, you can look at them, but you keep moving. This is where the Salahis, particularly Michaele, erred.

Take a look at this quirky montage of the the sashay seen 'round the world. Michaele no doubt knows her way around a bank of photographers. She walks in. Slows a little as the flashbulbs go off. Looks back in case a photog was looking for a little Renee Zellweger tease. And then she comes to a full stop. Notice anything else that happens? The flashbulbs stop, too. Rule broken. Comeuppance dispensed.

If the Salahis broke a law, they should go to prison. If their transgression doesn't cross any legal lines, they should still be banished from going anywhere near the president. (Like the "Handshake Man," who was banned from Washington for five years.) Either way, they deserve more punishment than the digital wrath of photographers and lashings from acerbic bloggers (ahem). After all, getting into the White House uninvited isn’t the equivalent of sneaking into the Boom Boom Room.

By Jonathan Capehart  | November 30, 2009; 3:31 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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In a way, they did the White House a real favor. Before them, rules were lax, and people complacent.

Think of how much worse it could have been. Just throwing a bag of baby powder and claiming it was anthrax would have been a MAJOR disaster for the administration.

Let's hope they heed the wake-up call!

Posted by: AlibiFarmer | November 30, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

I gotta say, it really makes me wonder about the Secret Service! Who are these people, really? Have they been in service for many years? How DID they feel about having to testify before a court during the Clinton years when they were required to reveal ALL who had access to the White House?
Did they resent it? Or, did they WELCOME it? And, WHY, oh WHY, since reports about our President's potential for assasination have increased some 400%, were they utterly lax in this particular case?
This whole thing is NOT GOOD. Here we have a President who is being threatened by forces inside and outside of our country and the Secret Service lets people in on the basis of their appearance.
I guess they thought Monica Lewinsky's appearance was o.k. too. Huh?

Posted by: cms1 | November 30, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Not the first time the Obama White House has had gatecrashers.


Posted by: MikeLicht | November 30, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

I guess if this loser couple prompts the Secret Service to tighten their security procedures and it ends up saving him from attack by one of our many right wing nutcases out there (and so-called "American" preachers praying for his death), it will be worth enduring all this nonsense.

Other than that, I wish our sad media would stop putting their pictures in the paper. It's like televising fans who dash onto the field at a sporting event. You encourage and reward this crap, Mr. Capehart.

And meanwhile... the Post STILL has not said Word One about the Tony Blair inquiry in the UK (for taking that country to war on false pretenses). Though they've been out of office almost a year, Washington's #1 neocon rag still protects the Bush/Cheney gang from any public demand at accountability for the Iraq lies. Shameful!

Posted by: B2O2 | November 30, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse

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