Capitol Hill Bureau Chief
If Rahm Emanuel left any enemies behind in the House of Representatives last year, they had a chance to even the score at the first-ever White House Luau Thursday night.
The traditional Congressional picnic got an Aloha State makeover in honor of President Obama's home state and featured everything from Polynesian dancers to grass skirts and tiki torches. But the highlight of the night, according to PD spies on hand, was a dunk tank with the Chief of Staff taking plunge after plunge (pictured).
Earlier, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs also faced the music with reporters from the White House press corps, including PD's own Lynn Sweet,
winding up to put Gibbs in the drink.
With fun and games as the backdrop, members of Congress from both parties, as well as their families and staffs, ate, drank and relaxed on the South Lawn decked out in leis and Hawaiian shirts (Rep. Barney Frank's was dark green). PD peeps spotted Vice President Joe Biden; White House staff including Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod, and Peter Orzag; and lots of who'd-have-guessed Congressional conversations between the likes of Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ).
Guests got a taste of Hawaii from chef Alan Wong, who made Kalua pig, baby back ribs, shrimp and clams, lomi lomi salmon, farm green salad and wasabi potato salad.
President Obama brought the entire First Family, including Bo the dog, and sported a purple lei as he welcomed his Congressional guests with a hearty, "Aloha!"
"I wish I could have given you a trip to Hawaii," Obama said to the crowd. "Given the credit crunch, we can't do that, so at least we can bring Hawaii to you."
But who got the biggest kick of the night? Our spies say Sasha Obama looked like a kid in a candy store after she sent Robert Gibbs into the dunk tank moments after her dad, the president, did the same to Emanuel.