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Posted at 12:20 PM ET, 02/25/2011

Jeremy Bernard: A historic choice for White House social secretary

By Jonathan Capehart

The White House is set to make news and history this afternoon when it announces the new social secretary. Jeremy Bernard, currently the chief of staff to the U.S. ambassador to France, will become the third person to hold the job in the Obama administration. But he will be the first man and the first openly gay person to be the first family's and the executive mansion's chief event planner and host.

Desiree Rogers was the first social secretary under President Obama and the first African American in the position. But one state dinner and three party crashers later, the exquisitely grand Rogers was gone. "She is a star," as one friend aptly put it at the height of the Salahi controversy, "who has taken a gig in the chorus."

Julianna Smoot swooped in at the behest of the Obamas last March. She was the engineer behind the president's 2008 fundraising machine and a known Washington hand who focused the social secretary's office on the fundamentals. But she resigned last month to join the reelection campaign taking shape in Chicago.

And now comes Jeremy Bernard.

Bernard and his then-partner Rufus Gifford were early supporters of Obama in California. And they raised a ton of money for him through their company, B&G Associates. Gifford went on to become finance director of the Democratic National Committee. Bernard was the White House liaison at the National Endowment for the Humanities before dashing off to his Paris post in November.

Full disclosure: Bernard and I are friends. He will bring a certain warmth and irreverence to the job that will make him a joy for his colleagues to work with. His knowledge of the Obamas and his intense attention to detail will ensure that their vision for the people's house continues seamlessly. And he has a reverence for the presidency and the meaning of the White House that will make him an imaginative steward of their image.

The president and the first lady have made an excellent choice.

By Jonathan Capehart  | February 25, 2011; 12:20 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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I am always delighted to see any openly gay or lesbian person appointed to public office, so long as they are competent. However I would not like the balance to tip such that a person's sexual orientation became more of a reason behind the appointment than their competence, as it used to be in the bad old days when a straight person would be appointed ahead of a gay or lesbian person, even when the LGBT person had superior skills for the job.

I wish Mr Bernard every success in his new job, and look forward to hearing great reports about his work.

Posted by: DerekWilliams | February 25, 2011 1:08 PM | Report abuse

As a person who spent eight amazing years organizing events in a more traditional White House (Bill and Hillary Clinton)I am fascinated by how the Obama White House reflects their modern, fresh style. This appears to be a wonderful choice for them personally as well as for the House, and I look forward to seeing his creative, imaginative touch on White House events!
Melinda Bates

Posted by: Bajagirl | February 25, 2011 1:23 PM | Report abuse

First of all, Gov jobs should be ones of absolute necessity...we're $14T in debt..this seems liek a position we could cut and I could care less who this guy sleeps that announced to somehow gain votes in 2012...Obama has the gays already...

Posted by: mjandrews8 | February 25, 2011 1:24 PM | Report abuse

It is strange that the word "historic" now refers to race, sex, sexual orientation, etc.

Why is this "historic?" It is not a special event for most people. Nor will it be remembered as important, if remembered at all. Mr. Bernards sexual orientation is not descriptive of his abilities or qualifications. Maybe it would be better to refer to his appointment simply as a "first."

Posted by: tina5 | February 25, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I like the idea, especially since it's a good move in an economy where property values are depressed. Everyone knows that property values go up when gays move into a neighborhood. A stylish, tasteful upgrade to White House events can't hurt either.

Posted by: RufusPlimpton | February 25, 2011 1:37 PM | Report abuse

The hostility seen in many of the other comments under this post is yet another reason why we must celebrate the historic fact of a gay person being appointed to this position. In an era when throwbacks like South Carolina's Senator Jim DeMint says that gay people shouldn't be allowed to teach school, and his supporters on Facebook say homosexuals deserve death, it is of the utmost importance that the US government at its highest levels affirm acceptance of gay Americans. Gay Americans were, (and in many situations still are) disallowed even to say out loud that they are gay, for fear of all manner of retribution against them. Enlightened human beings need no further explanation of the point and the bigots are going to be bigots no matter how much explaining one would do.

Posted by: ScottRose | February 25, 2011 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Jonathan's man bag must be swelling with pride: Obama decides homosexuals are a protected class, the same as blacks, etc (while still "grappling" with gay marriage --- pardon me if that doesn't generate some disturbing imagery); the military is planning "gay sensitivity training" even for combat troops on the front lines (question: when redeployed, is it OK to say "that's so gay..." in your own home?), and now a "social secretary" who is a gay man (I view this as a very serious sterotyping violation).

Things seem to be pretty much crumbling everywhere else, but on the gay front, everything is coming up show tunes!

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | February 25, 2011 1:49 PM | Report abuse

The First Law of Obama Reporting states: "Everything the man does is 'historic." You know, first state dinner by a black president, first foreign trip by a black president, first wagu beef eaten by a black president, first poop taken by a black president, etc. There is no end to the awesome historicity of Obama's presidency!

Posted by: Swat02 | February 25, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

It's the freaking social secretary.

Get over yourself, Capeheart. Not everything is a seminal moment in history, you dweeb.

(On the other hand, there is a fairly good chance that Obama will be meeting with this "secretary" more than he does with the Secretaries in his Cabinet, so maybe we should pay attention after all. Will the social secretary be coordinating Richard Trumka's regular weekly visits to the West Wing? Or all the meetings with lobbyists that they secretly hold across the street?)

Posted by: etpietro | February 25, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Obama, silent on a world afire...

.....but sure about the "unConstitutionality" of a law before its adjudication ....

...takes time to encourage Union Thugs to impede the will of the voters,

while interviewing homosexuals for a domestic job and "grappling with gay marriage"

One would think Obama is both more clueless than fabled Nero and utterly determined not to carry a single state in 2012

At this time, with todays pressing issues......this is what occupies Obama's lame is that

Posted by: georgedixon1 | February 25, 2011 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I love the comments that say things like, "It's OK if you're gay but don't flaunt it and be in my face about"! Same as the comments that say things like, "I have nothing against Blacks but I don't want one flaunting it or forcing me to accept one as my President or Commander in Chief!".

Well, I have nothing against conservative, union-hating, evangelical christianists but ....

Best of luck to Mr. Bernard!

Posted by: thebobbob | February 25, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse

etpietro wrote: "It's the freaking social secretary. Get over yourself, Capeheart. Not everything is a seminal moment in history, you dweeb."

Definitely. Besides, is anyone anywhere uncomfortable with the idea of a gay guy planning lavish parties? I mean, how many straight male event planners do you know?

Posted by: Swat02 | February 25, 2011 2:11 PM | Report abuse

This guy probably is not only gay, but black, with no legs, a heart transplant recipient AND IS MARRIED TO A CHINESE TRANSVESTITE.

Posted by: ravitchn | February 25, 2011 2:14 PM | Report abuse

White House parties just went from fabulous to FIERCE! Now, if Mr. Bernard could Mrs. Obama to stop crashing my outfits...

Posted by: bigolpoofter | February 25, 2011 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Lots of nasty trolls on this blog. Congratulations, Mr. Bernard. Great article, Mr. Capehart!

Posted by: MILWI | February 25, 2011 2:33 PM | Report abuse

The White House is certainly in a full court press to win back a specific group of their justifiably disillusioned and disappointed supporters from 2008.
Congratulations Mr. Bernard and keep those Salihis out on the street.

Posted by: menopausequeen | February 25, 2011 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Now if only the closet cases in the House and Senate in both parties would come out.

Posted by: LeoNoVA | February 25, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I would hope that Mr. Bernard is the best qualified for the job, who just happens to be gay rather than a gay who just happens to be qualified for the job.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | February 25, 2011 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Amazing how we can have our people trapped in Libya...Obama sends a boat that is too small to get them out so they cannot leave. In the meantime he and Michelle have another blast at the White House. Mo-Town night ...yes...entertaining the Obamas is always the priority. They make me sick and they are unfit to govern or set any kind of example for our youth. Good luck to the new Secretary- maybe he will see up front the true character of the Obamas. It's Louie and Marie Antoinette all over again.

Posted by: JUNGLEJIM123 | February 25, 2011 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Looking forward to the day when members of the BDSM community get the same acknowledgment the LGBT community does in politics. Who cares about gays these days, the real historic moment is when the first openly Sadist or Masochist is appointed to a political position. The political correctness of homosexuality is so 1987. Get with the times.

Posted by: JakeLockley | February 25, 2011 3:12 PM | Report abuse

The salient point here is that Mr. Bernard is the third Social Secretary in the Obama WH. As alluded to, his predecessors were mediocre when it came to detail. Ms. Smoot was headed out the door to Chicago when the pianist Lang Lang performed a piece during President Hu's visit that was universally known to be an anti-Western dig. Here's hoping Mr. Bernard's learning curve is as fast as it is steep regarding protocol and cultural anomalies before the next big to-do.

Posted by: wsilver1 | February 25, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

...maybe now we will get information about the White House Easter Egg Roll(2011). c'mon people it's getting late.

Posted by: coloriver06 | February 25, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse

...maybe now we will get information about the White House Easter Egg Roll(2011). c'mon people it's getting late.

Posted by: coloriver06 | February 25, 2011 3:19 PM | Report abuse

There are a lot of people up in arms about sexual orientation even being a consideration when making an appointment. Being gay isn't about "who you sleep with" as much as it is about civil rights. Personal lives should be kept personal but being gay doesn't stop when you get out of bed. Until Mr. Bernard can enjoy marriage, raising a family and his right to other heterosexual priviledges without condemnation, appointments like this should be considered historic. Even if no one remembers it, it is one small step for man...

Posted by: frmfrog | February 25, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Come on. This is like appointing the WH hairdresser. We Gays should hold our applause until Obama actually appoints a Gay to a high profile policy job. Until then, this is just an air kiss.

Posted by: goatcage | February 25, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

As a gay man, nobody knows how to "do" a party better than a gay man......the President is in good hands...Capehart keep your hands off ;)

Posted by: jnorow | February 25, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Obama is just trying to get all the gay votes he can for '12.

Posted by: g30rg3544 | February 25, 2011 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Maybe he can help with Obama's impeachment hearing for failing to keep his sworn oath and dereliction of duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution (i.e. deciding he is just going to ignore U.S. law he doesnt like - the Defense of Marriage Act). Hopefully Congress will act soon to start impeachment hearings.

Posted by: DaMan2 | February 25, 2011 4:47 PM | Report abuse

* The Mid East is imploding as we speak.
* We have two wars ongoing, with one experiencing decisive engagement.
* Oil prices are spiking with $100 per barrel reported on Feb 25.
* No foreign policy gains with north Korea, Iran, or Mid East peace -- in fact, things are WORSE!
*The entire country is in the depth of a recession when $800,000,000,000 was supposed to have employed millions with 'shovel ready' jobs -- and didn't.
* Unemployment is at 9% by government numbers, and 10.1% by Gallup's numbers -- with the real unemployment rate much closer to 20% when those who have quit looking are counted!
* OBAMACARE hanging over the heads of all Americans, and it does not only contain socialized medicine but hidden taxes -- such as the 3.8% capital gains tax that goes into effect in 2013!! (That will surely bolster real estate won't it???)


Glad Obama has his priorities in order, and sure the gay community will send him campaign contributions now!

Posted by: wheeljc | February 25, 2011 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon10 asks "is it OK to say "that's so gay..." in your own home?"

It is of course not illegal, but no, it's not okay. Describing unfortunate things as "so gay" is a slur, plain and simple.

Posted by: returningtodc | February 25, 2011 5:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm tho thwilled. Appointing a gay man SOD would be so news, appointing a gay man social secretary is cynical stereotyping. Or as one poster brilliantly noted, "Gay men do parties so well" ... just don't ask them to do anything serious. Obama gets more disgusting by the day.

Posted by: hughglass | February 25, 2011 5:42 PM | Report abuse

It is of course not illegal, but no, it's not okay. Describing unfortunate things as "so gay" is a slur, plain and simple.

Posted by: returningtodc | February 25, 2011 5:28 PM
Either you have no experience speaking to gay men or you are in denial.

Having two cousins who were openly gay for 40 years, I can tell you with certainty that these gay men are as rude, petty and unpolitically correct as anyone you will ever meet. Gay men seem to direct their nastiness towards straight women, whom they consider the competition.

Posted by: joepah | February 25, 2011 5:46 PM | Report abuse

This one will give the conspiracy crowd fits. They can't possibly accuse Jeremy Bernard of having earned this job on his knees if Obama is secretly a practicing Muslim. Allah just wouldn't approve.

Posted by: whitwhit | February 25, 2011 5:57 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: madstamina | February 25, 2011 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Last I checked he's still a WHITE DUDE, and that ain't historic. Now white boys are trying o take over the mantle of minority. Total con. They can be just as racist as anyone else. BTW where were they when blacks were getting knocked in the head? Enjoying privilege, that's where.

Posted by: davis_renee | February 25, 2011 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Applause for Obama and Holder deciding that the DOMA is unconstitutional and they will not defend it. Good for them.

But isn't this President deciding what is and what is not unconstitutional a slippery slope.

Won't a Republic President declare Obamacare unconstitutional and decide not to defend it?

If so, won't the Republican be doing the same thing Obama is now?

Posted by: cpameetingbook | February 25, 2011 7:55 PM | Report abuse

This is sick!

Posted by: tonyjm | February 25, 2011 7:58 PM | Report abuse

I am glad to see the crab apples and bigots are still out there upholding their traditional roles.
Like it or not people, entertaining foreign dignitaries is part of running a nation, especially one that wants to appear to be the leading nation on the planet. If we can't even make the effort to keep up appearances, what are we telling the world? All hope is lost, you may as well pack it up now. And by the way, all that money we owe you, sorry, but forget it?
The White House entertainment budget is small compaired to that of third world countries and will make no difference at all solving the current economic crisis.
I must admit, historic is perhaps overstating things a bit, but this is an entertainment article more than political news and I except the excessive hyperbole.
As for the subject of the article, good luck in the new job, it will be a challenge. This White House will not see peace any time soon.

Posted by: waltermarx | February 25, 2011 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Re:It is strange that the word "historic" now refers to race, sex, sexual orientation, etc.

Why is this "historic?" It is not a special event for most people. Nor will it be remembered as important, if remembered at all. Mr. Bernards sexual orientation is not descriptive of his abilities or qualifications. Maybe it would be better to refer to his appointment simply as a "first."

AFTER DECADES (AT LEAST) OF BEING DEMONIZED, to have someone openly gay is HISTORIC! Do you right wingers have to be so mean and spiteful about everything? Open your hearts a little.

Posted by: kashe | February 25, 2011 8:13 PM | Report abuse

"Full disclosure: Bernard and I are friends."

Sorry, Jonathan, but that is only partial disclosure.

Posted by: hisroc | February 25, 2011 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh yes, we MUST disclose one's sexuality upon getting a cushy job that was "purchased" by raising a ton of money.

Change we can believe in?

Posted by: ruralamericans | February 25, 2011 9:29 PM | Report abuse

All of a sudden we don't hear vulgar "teabagger" comments... How typical of the hateful left. They can celebrate any perversion except a differing opinion. Hitler and Obama feel the same.

Posted by: carlbatey | February 25, 2011 9:35 PM | Report abuse

No doubt that the new dress code in the White House will be tight leather shorts. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Posted by: Uncle_and_Auntie_Pasto | February 25, 2011 9:40 PM | Report abuse

It is sickening that the kueers are taking over the country. I am ready to support Al Queada because they will cut the kueers heads off.

Posted by: stinkingtuna | February 25, 2011 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Is this guy arranging Obama's dates for date night?

Posted by: ecartr5 | February 25, 2011 10:31 PM | Report abuse

There are now more openly gays on the White House staff than there are Veterans!

With the departure of National Security Advisor General James Jones several months ago, NO ONE in the entire West Wing has ever donned a uniform in defense of this nation which makes Obama's truly a "Vet-less Administration."

All Americans should encourage Obama to add some real “diversity” to his administration and set an example for the rest of the country by hiring a few Vets. It might even have the serendipitous effect of lowering Veteran unemployment.

Want to know how I really feel, check out my Blog at:

Posted by: A-COL | February 26, 2011 2:10 AM | Report abuse

Good luck with the job, Jeremy, and ignore the idiots.

Social secretary is indeed an important post. Not only do you need to be imaginative and innovative about organizing events, you have to know what could or could not annoy guests to the White House on cultural, political, religious, and personal grounds. Most of them are powerful state of heads or have vast networks, so it is important they not leave after a visit to the WH feeling snubbed, ignored, or insulted.

Posted by: asoders22 | February 26, 2011 2:14 AM | Report abuse

Why even mention his disorientation? On a strictly logical basis apart from any religious considerations, governmental validation of obviously biologically short-circuited behavior can only end badly. Perpetuation of the species is a basic prime directive in human sub-conscious self-preservation programming... to be complicit in subverting it amounts to condoning the genetic genocide of specific DNA lines and probably even bears legal liability for those who "enable" and encourage such dead-end hedonistic folly.

Posted by: homonauseous | February 26, 2011 2:37 AM | Report abuse

Look around, homonauseous - see any lack of human species? ;)

Posted by: asoders22 | February 26, 2011 3:28 AM | Report abuse


1. Gay people do have kids.

2. If you REALLY want to save DNA lines, stop warfare and domestic violence. Stop poverty and diseases. Stop big corporations from poisoning the planet.

That would be somewhere to start.

Posted by: asoders22 | February 26, 2011 3:32 AM | Report abuse

Yeah they have kids and they manufacture families. There is a lot of pretending that goes on. Look at Elton John. That situation is as unnatural as it gets. Like I said earlier, this dude, who has obviously led a privileged life, should only be labeled a "minority" in the same way that redheads are a "minority". It's an insult to every person who has suffered real discrimination in education or access. This is another person trying to force society to validate his behavior, and make him feel "normal" - whatever that is. Capeheart should be advocating for those who, because they look like him, have suffered real discrimination. He probably thinks his paycheck exempts him from being black.

Posted by: davis_renee | February 26, 2011 5:30 AM | Report abuse

If the appointment was on merit then it doesn't matter if Bernard is gay, heterosexual or calathumpian.

Recognising gay rights will make American society decent. The idea that there should be oppression of one group because many of the majority members in society do not approve of a minority is appalling.

Posted by: robertjames1 | February 26, 2011 5:50 AM | Report abuse

As a gay man myself, I am happy for Mr. Bernard, but historic it's not. Historic will be when he is hired and no one notices or cares that he has a spouse of the same sex and all they care is if he can do the job. Now that will be historic.

So Jonathan, stop pointing and grow up.

Posted by: mjcc1987 | February 26, 2011 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Every time a gay man wins approval a Republican dies a little.

Posted by: cllr | February 26, 2011 9:21 AM | Report abuse

This is what is wrong with the left and political correctness. The question should be is he the most qualified person for the position, if he happens to be gay so be it. That should be secondary.

The biggest example of this is the child president who got the job because of his heratige not his ability and we are all paying the price. Deal with any government office and you will see this, people who are products of social promotion who are completely unqualifiede for the jobs.

Posted by: Pilot1 | February 26, 2011 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Heck this was an easy decision. Everyone knows gay guys are the best party animals and throw the best parties !

I'm a straight guy and enjoy their parties - usually lots of single hot chicks there too.

Given the weekly sometimes twice weekly parties at the White House this was an easy decision.

Obama may be a one-termer... but at least he'll be known as the "Party animal" President.

Posted by: pvilso24 | February 26, 2011 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Wow ! A big deal indeed ! Is he gonna be the guy that will handle the Victory in the Middle East galas ? Or maybe he can handle the ME issues themselves, since we don't have a president who knows what to do. How important is this really ?? Are you kidding me !?! A new social sec,,,Motown concerts in the White House...isn't there something going on that is more important?? I can think of several things. Time to continue the house cleaning that started last Nov....

Posted by: Gypsy1 | February 26, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Jonathan, you miss the point again in selling out the gay community to shill for Obama.

There is not one Cabinet secretary or deputy cabinet secretary. There is not one gay man in a top policymaking position. And the administration refused to nominate the gay man that Schumer proposed for a federal judgeship in New York.

But we get to be the social secretary. What's next, getting to be hair stylist, makeup artist, and flight attendant on Air Force One?

Posted by: uh_huhh | February 26, 2011 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: dseigler2 | February 26, 2011 12:41 PM | Report abuse

The word historic is wildly overused. Actually it would have been more interesting had they hired a straight man for the position ... stereotypes, you know.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | February 26, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Of course Mr Bernard is qualified, as far as the Obamas know. They wouldn't hire someone not merited just to make a point - it would be counterproductive.

What are the negative people here so afraid of? It doesn't rub off. You cant become gay just because the Obamas hire a gay social secretary and you read about it in the paper. And it isn't "shoved down your throat" just because it isn't kept a secret.

Ever contemplated that the rest of us are not that keen on getting your sour comments and bad mood shoved down OUR throats every time something good happens to gay people?

Posted by: asoders22 | February 26, 2011 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Homo-nauseous is a more accurate descriptor than homo-phobic... In the label "homophobe" we see a typical diversionary tactic... the one with the real dysfunctional reproductive disorder labels the one operating within sound paramaters as having a defect... how obviously lame... Although it remains that a fear of "societal-wide homosexual lifestyle pseudo-validation" would be logical since there should be a quite natural self/species preservation instinct.

Posted by: homonauseous | February 26, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

This is more proof that the Obama regime is being held hostage by the radical, homosexual lobby.

B.O. seems to be doing everything in his power to make himself our next one-term president.

Jimmy Carter, move over!

Posted by: battleground51 | February 27, 2011 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Will bernard and gifford get married now?A white house wedding?Liberals are so wierd.

Posted by: bcomber38 | February 28, 2011 9:18 AM | Report abuse

He is the first male to be the social secretary to the President. Now, they are feeding the stereotype that gays are not as macho as other men.

Does it do more harm than good that he is gay?

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | February 28, 2011 10:13 AM | Report abuse

So long as the gentleman is competent to perform the duties associated with the position, there should be no fanfare from the Obamas about either his gender or his orientation. Such announcements make Mr. Bernard's appointment look like tokenism, and sounds like a (weak) attempt by Mr. Obama to show he is pro gay rights (but not marriage yet...) and to hopefully snare their votes in 2012. Call me a cynic, but many of Mr. Obama's actions during the first two years of his presidency smack of the same forward (2012) thinking.

Posted by: catherinezandruskevich | February 28, 2011 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Why can we not state that this is a male appointed as Social Secretary. Should we also say his religion or lack of , his preference for what type friend.

I am tired of adjectives to define people! You the media are the most segregated comment people about people color, reglion or sexual bias. Did you every consider we would all be better served without your adjectives!

Posted by: satch63 | February 28, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

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