... documents obtained by The Examiner point to an unprecedented upsurge in White House spending ... The Obama extravaganza two years ago for Mexican President Felipe Calderon, which included a performance by pop star Beyonce, cost $969,793, or more than $4,700 per attendee, the documents show....
.... A knowledgeable government official who made the documents available to The Examiner said the extravagant spending seemed unfair with so many Americans out of work.
"It just kind of takes your breath away to see the expenditure of money that has occurred since 2009," the official said.
New York Daily News 11/24/2009: What bipartisanship? Top Republican say they didn't get invite to Obama's state dinner
"The White House is scrambling to clamp down on the pomp and pageantry, the talk of glitzy gowns and black ties for fear of looking out of touch during a down economy."
The Calderon dinner was held on the South Lawn in a massive tent adorned with decorated walls, hanging chandeliers, carpeting and a stage for Beyonce's performance. Guests rode private trolley cars from the White House to the tent. Celebrity guest chef Rick Bayless from Chicago’s Topolobampo restaurant was imported to prepare Oaxacan black mole, black bean tamalon and grilled green beans.
The dinner for the prime minister of India-- which was famously crashed by Virginia couple Michaele and Tareq Salahi -- cost nearly half a million dollars.
Like Katie Couric, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams admitted (on NBC’s Daily Nightly blog) he was dazzled to be invited to the White House state dinner on Tuesday night. Also like Couric, he failed to explain whether a national news anchor attending a White House dinner might be compromising their appearance of being independent of presidential power. Instead, we were offered pinch-me talk:
At one point last night – at several points, actually – I turned to my wife and asked, "What, exactly, are we doing here? Can you believe where we are?" I suppose there are people who are blasé about State Dinners, but we are not among them. I was honored to attend. It was a warm and glittery evening in a beautiful place...with better-than-average people!
Dinners for Chinese President Hu Jintao and British Prime Minister David Cameron were of the same level of extravagance.
... the best warm fuzzy of all, Obama broke some news. "Under a new agreement, our National Zoo will continue to dazzle children and visitors with the beloved giant pandas." The guests, of course, broke into laughter and applause. (Washington Post)
... the tradition of publishing the wine list ended ... when a bottle of cabernet at a dinner for Chinese president Hu Jintao retailed for $399.
.... The chief usher of the White House from the Reagan to George W. Bush presidencies, Walters consulted a former White House colleague and said neither of them could recall entertainment costs anywhere near those revealed in the documents provided to The Examiner."
The highest [cost] event we could remember was $190,000 to $200,000 range, and that was for a very large dinner outside that was probably somewhere in the vicinity of 500 people with two different tents," Walters said, noting that the event was held under President Clinton.
Hillary and Bill Clinton before a 1998 state dinner.