WHITE HOUSE (CNN) – Whoops! A picture of a Christmas tree is not the first thing you would expect to see on an invitation to an event celebrating Hanukkah, but that is exactly what recipients of invitations to this year’s White House Hanukkah reception initially got in the mail.
The invitation sent to American Jewish leaders on behalf of the President and First Lady, requesting “the pleasure of your company at a Hanukkah reception,” bore an image of a Clydesdale horse-drawn cart, carrying the White House Christmas tree, with a Christmas wreath-adorned White House in the background.
Mrs. Bush’s press secretary, Sally McDonough, attributed the snafu to a “staff mistake” in not printing separate cards for the different White House holiday events, as has been the custom in years past.
Staff mistake? I think that Pickles took a few lessons from Cindy Lou McCain!
“Mrs. Bush is apologetic, It is just something that fell through the cracks,” she said, referring to the role of the First Lady’s office in sending out the invitations.
Just fell through the cracks? Who is in charge of these things? The answer is the Special Assistant to the President and White House Social Secretary, Amy Swartz Zantzinger. From Cox Washington (January 30, 2007):
The new social secretary most recently ran an interior design business. Prior to that, from 1994-1998, she was with Barbara Scavullo Design in San Francisco. And prior to that she was the protocal officer in the San Francisco mayor’s office.
Like lots of folks who sign on with the current Bush White House, she is a veteran of the previous Bush White House. From 1988-1992 she worked in the White House Visitors Office, where her chores includes planning holiday activities and visits from foreign heads of state. She worked in the 1992 Bush-Quayle re-election campaign and was an executive assistant to the elder Bush during the 1988-89 transition.
The White House Social Secretary is responsible for the planning, coordination and execution of official social events at the White House, the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States.
The Social Secretary is head of the White House Social Office, located in the East Wing of the White House Complex. The Social Secretary plans events ranging from those as simple as a tea for the First Lady and a single official guest, to dinners for more than 200 guests. The Social Secretary works with the White House Chief Usher to coordinate domestic staff and with the Chief of Protocol of the United States, an official within the United States Department of State, to plan state visits and accompanying state dinners. The Social Secretary works with the White House Graphics and Calligraphy Office in the production of invitations to social events.
The Social Secretary works on both the non-political functions of the presidency and the political, coordinating events for the President, the First Lady, and senior political staff. The White House Social Secretary serves at the president’s pleasure and is appointed by each administration.
According to the Washington Post, her salary is $113,000 annually. Pickles also has a Chief of Staff, Anita B. McBride, who rakes in $172,2000. Those posts have deputies and assistants and various assistants to assistants. There’s someone to handle her correspondence and someone else to handle her schedule, and they have deputies, too. Out of all those people (not to mention those at the Printing Office and the aforementioned Graphics and Calligraphy Office), nobody realized that you don’t send a Hanukkah invitation with a friggin’ Christmas tree on the front? Next time, go to fu¢king Hallmark!!
Tip of the hat to the handsome and talented (oy, he even bakes!) Distributorcap for making me aware of this story.