Feb 25, 2011


The White House is set to make news and history this afternoon when it announces the new social secretary. Jeremy Bernard, currently the chief of staff to the U.S. ambassador to France, will become the third person to hold the job in the Obama administration. But he will be the first man and the first openly gay person to be the first family's and the executive mansion's chief event planner and host.

Desiree Rogers was the first social secretary under President Obama and the first African American in the position. But one state dinner and three party crashers later, the exquisitely grand Rogers was gone. "She is a star," as one friend aptly put it at the height of the Salahi controversy, "who has taken a gig in the chorus."

Julianna Smoot swooped in at the behest of the Obamas last March. She was the engineer behind the president's 2008 fundraising machine and a known Washington hand who focused the social secretary's office on the fundamentals. But she resigned last month to join the reelection campaign taking shape in Chicago.

And now comes Jeremy Bernard.

Bernard and his then-partner Rufus Gifford were early supporters of Obama in California. And they raised a ton of money for him through their company, B&G Associates. Gifford went on to become finance director of the Democratic National Committee. Bernard was the White House liaison at the National Endowment for the Humanities before dashing off to his Paris post in November.

Full disclosure: Bernard and I are friends. He will bring a certain warmth and irreverence to the job that will make him a joy for his colleagues to work with. His knowledge of the Obamas and his intense attention to detail will ensure that their vision for the people's house continues seamlessly. And he has a reverence for the presidency and the meaning of the White House that will make him an imaginative steward of their image.

The president and the first lady have made an excellent choice.


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