Woman Up Editor
For the first week of Gategate, the media feeding frenzy was over the blonde in a sari. The uninvited guest's reality-housewife-centric aspects were too high wattage to ignore. But the tacky Bravo storyline quickly became predictable – House oversight hearing, of course; "Today Show" booking to follow Larry King snub, check; reluctant witness threatened with subpoena, bingo -- ho hum. In a new overheated news cycle, the press and readers released the tiger tail of that tale in favor of another.
(Before we're done with Missy Michaele Holt completely, however, I want to thank Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi for Thursday's quote from a cheerleader upset about Mrs. Salahi busting into a Redskinette alumni squad: "It's really a privilege to wear the burgundy and gold. So I'm resentful. . . . For her to get out there and think she can just shake her pompoms.")
As often happens, the dimming of one brassy star parallels the tarnishing of a more burnished one. In addition to the diminished reputations of the suspended Secret Service agents, the most damaged of all may turn out to be that of White House social secretary Desiree Rogers, whose staff did not monitor the entrance. In D.C., private political rubbernecking has its own syncopated rhythm. It appears the dinner party circuit and insider whisperers have finally turned their sharp knives to the high- profile creator of "East meets West ambiance."
Maureen Dowd took a nibble out of the Chicago doyenne in her Sunday column, declaring Desirée Rogers "has been cruising for a bruising since telling the Wall Street Journal in April: 'We have the best brand on Earth: the Obama brand.'" Then, on Wednesday, Robin Givhan at the Washington Post, in a lightly attributed profile, also dished the 50-year-old socialite who "arrived in Washington this year to great fanfare, no small amount of it of her own making."
An established Chicago political powerhouse when Barack and Michelle were still the new kids in town, Givhan wrote that Rogers' "social stature and wealth exceeded that of the Obamas for many years. Long before their ascent, she was a star in Chicago society, running with the city's elite." The reporter did not help Rogers' job standing with this observation: "The Obamas were the nice couple from the South Side. She was a cut above."
Desiree moved from Hyde Park to Georgetown after being assured that the social secretary job was not "a job that I would be picking flowers all day." Maybe now she wishes it had been. Declining to testify about her role in the lapse to a House investigating committee Thursday, her absence required the White House to uncomfortably pull rank to excuse her.
Author Jacob Heilbrunn described Rogers' security misstep in Huffington Post as a "blatant failure," calling her a "Harvard MBA-toting, Chicago socialite, Vogue cover girl, Commes des Garcons-wearing social secretary" and wondered if allowing her to remain in the post will be a test of the president's loyalty. But perhaps Mrs. Rogers misses her neighborhood and will depart on her own. "She arrived at the White House as a friend and peer of the first couple," the Post article points out, "and now she has a job in which she is expected to serve at their pleasure."
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