'Welcome to Washington'

Steve Benen on the inanity of obsessing over the White House social secretary:

ABC's "This Week" held its usual roundtable discussion this morning, with Elizabeth Vargas hosting a panel of Cokie Roberts, Sam Donaldson, George Will, and Paul Krugman.

The last topic of conversation was introduced by Vargas this way:

"[O]f course, this weekend, we have a brand-new White House social secretary appointed to replace Desiree Rogers, a close friend of the Obamas who is exiting after a bumpy tenure, I would say. Cokie, you spoke with her. She -- she was highly criticized after the Obamas' first state dinner in which she arrived, looking absolutely gorgeous, but in what some people later said was far too fancy a dress, but most importantly, that was the state dinner that was crashed by the Salahis, who walked in without an invitation when the social secretary's office didn't have people manning the security sites."

This led to a surprisingly long chat about Desiree Rogers.

Krugman sat silently while the discussion went on (and on), before eventually interjecting:

"Can I say that 20 million Americans unemployed, the fact that we're worrying about the status of the White House social secretary....

Donaldson responded, "Paul, welcome to Washington."

Steve correctly notes that Donaldson's remark was insulting. But more than that it was the kind of "others say..." kabuki (as in "Others say Desiree Rogers was always a bad fit...") that journalists employ when they want an excuse to talk about something, but don't want to compromise their "objectivity." To the extent that Washington obsesses over the White House social secretary, and the Washington I lived in when I was there did not, Sam Donaldson is part of it. It's not mysterious.