Obama's first state dinner guest: India
How great is it to be Kalpen Modi this year? The Indian American actor left a thriving Hollywood career for a plum job at the White House, moved to Washington, and now gets an invite to the most exclusive party of the year: the Obamas' first state dinner, honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
While the White House isn't confirming anyone on Tuesday's guest list, engraved invitations went out last week and names of the recipients are starting to leak out. Oprah may be coming, according to news reports. (Yeah, but her name pops up every time the Obamas throw a party.) Vernon and Ann Jordan snagged an invite, as did Asia Society President Vishakha Desai.
The official roster won't come out until next week, but look for the usual suspects from the Hill: Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sens. John Kerry, Daniel Inouye and Dick Lugar, and the administration: Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod and golf buddy Melody Barnes.
Who else? There's plenty of room. Instead of holding their first official dinner inside the White House, the president and first lady will host 400 guests in an elaborate tent erected on the South Lawn, not in the State Dining Room favored by Laura Bush (seats 140 max). The Clinton administration started with small state dinners and ended with giant tent parties hosting more than 700 guests.
This is the third White House dinner for India in the past decade: Bill Clinton hosted one in 2000, George W. Bush in 2005. Singh and his wife, Gursharan, are such old pros that they're skipping Blair House -- the official residence for foreign leaders -- and staying with their delegation at the Willard Hotel.
The Reliable Source
November 18, 2009; 1:03 AM ET
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