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Julianna Smoot's A-list drop-by

Liz Stevens, from left, White House social secretary Julianna Smoot, Melissa Moss and Capricia Marshall, chief of protocol, at a celebration for the new social secretary Thursday. (Roxanne Roberts/TWP)

You know how it is in Washington: You plan a party, then something unexpected happens.

A luncheon Thursday for new White House social secretary Julianna Smoot was planned long before Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced a D.C. visit. Heads of state trump ladies who lunch, so no one was surprised to hear that Smoot was stuck at the White House.

But her predecessors -- Capricia Marshall, who is currently chief of protocol, Ann Stock and Lea Berman -- put their heads together and engineered a way for the guest of honor to make a quick (like, five minutes) drop-in.

"I'm so sorry I'm late," Smoot told the cheering crowd. "It's very un-social-secretary-like of me, not to mention my mother would kill me. But Capricia and I are doing our official duty today."

The fact that Smoot made the effort to show at all -- and brought along the Russian chief of protocol, Marina Entaltseva -- endeared her to the dozens of A-listers in the room, all women who worked closely with the White House in previous administrations. "You all, as a group, have done so much to make D.C. and the world a better place," Smoot told them, showing the tact and savvy that landed her the job. (Conspicuously absent: Obama's first social secretary, Desirée Rogers, who was invited.)

"We are thrilled to have you in your new position," Melissa Moss, who co-hosted the party at her Georgetown home, told Smoot. "We're here to support you -- not that you need help, but there's not a person in this room that doesn't want you to have a fabulous run."

The gushy speeches lasted a grand total of three minutes, a new record for D.C.

"Now back to work!" Stock announced, shooing Smoot and Marshall out the door to oversee a private White House lunch for Michelle Obama and Svetlana Medvedev. "The luncheon's in 15 minutes!"

By The Reliable Source  |  June 25, 2010; 1:05 AM ET
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