A White House Tradition
June 7th, 2011
10:00 AM ET

The hardest ticket to get in town: State Dinners

When President Obama hosts a State Dinner for German Chancellor Angela Merkel Tuesday, it will be the latest in a long line of White House fetes for foreign heads of states.

White House State Dinners can be traced all the way back to 1874, when President Ulysses S. Grant hosted an intimate 40-person gathering for Hawaiian King Kalakua. Since then, State Dinners have become considerably more elaborate, with each president adding a touch of his personality to the once-staid affairs. While some are big and others small, all are considered to be the toughest ticket in town to score and often produce memorable moments as shown above.


Topics: State Dinner • The Visuals

soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. SP

    And what is the cost to the taxpayer for these dinners?

    June 7, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • jean2009

      Since they have been having White House State Dinners since 1874 aren't you just a little late to ask such a silly question?

      June 7, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  2. Are they invited

    Are the party crashers on the list?

    June 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  3. dcsailor

    am i crazy, or is that obama in the lion king get-up in photo 23?

    June 7, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • jean2009

      No, I think it is Dick Cheney not wearing his Darth Vader outfit.

      June 7, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  4. bhavin

    Who cares? After all it is a charity dinner, paid by people of USA. We give charity to soups kitchens and pay tazes to US govt so that they can feed themselves and others. Its just a ego satisfying event for everybody who are nobdy in real sense.

    June 7, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  5. descardao

    According to Scripps howard News Service, the Emperor Obama travelled to London with a staff of 500, including 200 Secret Service agents, a team of six doctors, the White House kitchen staff along with Obama's own food and water. They also arrived with 35 vehicles. four speech writers and twelve (12!) telepromters (no mention of an emergency ventriloquist). Wonder what Merkel, a real world leader, arrived in Washington with in her entourage?

    June 7, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Grocko

      You Obama-haters are just so darned cute!

      June 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • jean2009

      It is a shame you didn't take your research any further. You should have read the following link entitled "Anatomy of a Right-wing Smear- Aided by Scripps Howard's Dale MCFeatters that was posted on the American Blog by John Aravosis 6/02/201. It gave a break down of the current Obama English trip staff compared to size of the George W. Bush staff which went to England 2 years ago.

      George W.Bush
      Secret Service – 250
      Doctors-2 ?
      Non-S.S. Staff – 400
      Total Staff – 650
      Friends -50
      Chefs – 5
      Helicopters -2
      Prez Car – Cadillac and "a fleet"
      Air force One

      Barack Obama
      Secret Service – 200
      Doctors – 6
      Non S.S. Staff -300
      Total Staff -500
      Prez Car- Cadillac "a fleet"
      Marine One- helicopter
      Air Force One

      However, if you go to the website: Boing Boing for a break down of President Bush's Travel Entourage it shows diagrams and lists the number of people who are on the list. The list for G. W. Bush included: 150 National Security Advisors; 50 White House Political Aids: 200 representatives from other government agencies; 15 dog sniffer teams; 2 identical 747-200's; 1 jumbo jet; a Sikorsky Sea King Helicopter; a Black Hawk Helicopter; 20 armored motorcade vehicles; and the Presidential limousine.

      You should have egg on your face for not whining about this when Bush did it. Oh silly me... I think you are just a whiner for this case.

      June 7, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
      • Sam

        Americans have come down to that level. Guess no longer world's powerful and wealthiest nation.

        June 7, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  6. v

    Obama 2012 🙂

    June 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • descardao

      vvvvvvvvvvvv 2012 may not arrive soon enough for America and Israel.

      June 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
      • emmy skadittle

        do you really think president palin would be a good thing for our nation?

        June 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
      • jean2009

        Who cares about Israel we don't elect their legislature. All they do is keep the middle east in an uproar, which gobbles up billions of dollars people in this country could benefit from. It is time for them to get serious about a peaceful settlement of the issues and it was time our president told them so. Sixty plus years of doing nothing toward peace and holding out their hand for our aid is far too long.

        June 7, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • jean2009

      Obama-Biden 2012

      June 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  7. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Yes Jean. It's very late for 'taxpaying whinners' to start whinning now! We have been sponsoring governmental operations through taxes for years, and that would include State Dinners; but all of a sudden it has become Oh such the BIG problem and taxpayers' concern these days! I think the difference is who's hosting and eating at these State Dinners; who's living in the WHITEHOUSE; who's traveling on AIRFORCE ONE; who may be being percieved by most of the world as a genuine, hardworking, diligent PRESIDENT!

    June 7, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Howard

      Another Michelle Obama opportunity to gorge herself with lobster, champagne, and pastry's, paid for by us poor (and getting poorer) taxpayers, while she lectures the rest of us on how we should be tightening our belts, and eating apple slices.

      June 7, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
      • jean2009

        I've seen pictures of the first lady and she looks very fit, she must spend a lot of time working out. She certainly doesn't look like someone who gorges. Actually, tonight's menu does not feature lobster, the main course is steak with crab ravioli and ramp puree, the desert is apple strudel.

        Did you whine this much when Bush held state dinners? Somehow I thoroughly doubt that you did .... hypocrite.

        June 7, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  8. Bill

    I'm so sick of this Obama creep. I would take ANYONE in 2012 over this douche.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
  9. Liz Carter in Georgia

    You go girl! Keep on telling it like it 't-i-s' IS! Thanks Jean!

    June 8, 2011 at 12:50 am |