April 18, 2006
The Lei Away Plan
As the Telegraph points out (link), lesbian and gay families on Monday encountered probably the most disarming enforcers the White House has ever employed.
If you were following Easter’s edition of the culture wars, you might have heard how gay families from across the country had been planning to claim a little validation by attending this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll. (Sexual preference was supposedly not a factor so long as a group had no more than two parents and at least one child under eight.) Just to make things more interesting, however, the gay and lesbian families were intending to get there first (most likely hoping to catch story time with the First Lady).
It might have been because the NYT built up the story about a week in advance. In any case, the matter turned into a government "situation" when, according to SFGate.com,
gay and lesbian couples started camping out Friday night to get a lions
share of the first come-first serve tickets the White House was
distributing Saturday morning.
Clearly not in the mood for magnanimity, the White House pulled a classic bait-and-switch. Once the LGBT families had their tickets, a good many for the designated 11 a.m. start time, the White House changed the schedule to begin three hours earlier. This allowed the Bush’s to preside over the festivities, then hightail out just before all the people wearing those leis came in.
Were there any hard feelings that George and Laura weren’t around? Not that the media gave much pause to. But just to be sure, the White House stocked the grounds with surrogates, including the Egg Ladies, Mrs. Bunny and a PBS character with the odd name of Noddy.
All in all, it was an impressively Rovian example of how to sidestep a potentially awkward situation. I mean, I really looked, and I couldn’t find one example where Mrs. Bush or the President was photographed near anyone wearing one of those floral rainbows. The only slight glitch, at least visually, were those signs at the entrance to the White House. Yes, it’s a free country and all — but it would have been nice –especially for the kids that read — to have somehow minimized those messages too.
(Photo credits to follow)