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White House guests miss POTUS photos at holiday parties

The National Christmas Tree at the White House, December 2009. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

'Tis the season for a picture with the president and first lady, a traditional perk of White House holiday parties for lucky guests. But President Obama has all but eliminated the endless receiving line photos, to the dismay of those who love to plaster the photos on their brag walls.

Yeah, yeah, boo hoo for the elite who don't get their presidential glamour shot. But the change was like coal in the stocking for a lot of big shots. For the first time in decades, the VIP celebrities and donors at the Kennedy Center Honors White House reception didn't get an official photo -- and quietly made their displeasure known to the KenCen brass.

The White House hosts dozens of holiday parties and receptions (this year, 28 fetes for 50,000 people) where the president and his wife have typically posed for hours and hours while their guests have fun. Ronald and Nancy Reagan used to stand on a rubber mat to survive the ordeal. The Obamas, instead, are doing quick mingles with the crowd, while guests frantically try to capture the moment with their digi-cams or cellphones.

The one exception so far: The party for Congress last week. After passing through intense security checkpoints, members were assigned times to get in line for a personal keepsake photo with the first couple. "He was down there for over three hours," said Rep. Peter King, the lead Republican on the congressional inquiry into last month's Salahi security breach. "They were both very pleasant." He added: "There were more White House staff than I've ever seen in my life."

Why so few receiving lines? One congressional staffer at the party said that, given recent events, the White House is sensitive about who is pictured with the president. (On "60 Minutes" Sunday, Obama said he's "unhappy with everybody who was involved in the process" leading to the uninvited visit: "That's why it won't happen again.") The White House did not return calls for comment, but DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan said he hasn't heard grumbling. "The feeling shared by everyone I've talked to is that being invited to the White House is not only an honor of a lifetime but an indelible memory."

By The Reliable Source  |  December 14, 2009; 1:03 AM ET
Categories:  Parties , Politics  
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I'm still looking for the article promised in last week's chat.

Which one is it?

Posted by: bmschumacher | December 14, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I think receiving lines and the photos are nice but it also cuts down on time the President/Governor/etc. can mix freely with their guest. I have attended events at a Governor's Mansion and standing in the receiving line is not fun.

Posted by: rlj1 | December 14, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

The nightmare for the President doesn't stop at the photo, they are then developed have to be signed and then mailed out to those pictured. The Salahis' photo should be signed by the President, "Thanks for nothing" and mailed to them.

Posted by: Greg42 | December 15, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

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