08 May 2007

The Queen

A number of years ago, while a graduate student in Oxford, I had the opportunity to meet the Queen. No, not Queen -- though a conversation with Freddy Mercury probably would've been more interesting. (Who else can cite the oil-and-water duo of Jimi Hendrix and Liza Minnelli as his two favorite performers?!) Meeting HM was definitely cool, and I got some nifty photos of she and me out of it. (Must remember to dig those out at some point.) But one of the details of the whole affair that I remember most vividly was the unsavory positioning and back-biting acquaintances displayed in order to secure one of the select invitations. Something about the little lady in the big hat -- with the even bigger sceptre! -- makes folks nuts ...

So, it's with no small amount of interest that we review the guest list for last night's state dinner at the White House, at which the Queen and Prince Philip were the guests of honor. Check it out here.

No one seems to have seized on it yet, but the cross-section of folks in attendance is quite striking. Until I saw it, I expected that the list would include the predictable "who's who" of the Washington elite. But, while there's no shortage of politicos and cronies, more remarkable is the selection of non-Washington folks. A few examples:

- Marta Domingo (wife of Maestro Placido Domingo)
- Elisabeth Hasselbeck (host of "The View") & Timothy Hasselbeck (professional football player)
- Peyton Manning (professional football player) & Ashley Manning
- John Marion (honorary chairman, Sotheby's North America) & Anne Marion
- James W. Nantz III (CBS sportscaster) & Ann-Lorraine Nantz
- Arnold Palmer (professional golfer) & Kathleen Palmer
- Itzhak Perlman (violinist) & Toby Lynn Perlman
- Rohan De Silva (pianist)

Mind you, I have no objections to any of these people per se. But how exactly are they selected? (I’m reminded of a similarly incredulous tone from years ago.) And what exactly do they represent? Surely not America. Is this a glimpse into Bush’s circle of influence? Is the sports world’s aristocratic family, the Manning’s, tight with the political world’s aristocratic family, the Bush’s? And why would Marta Domingo attend without her tenor husband? And does Domingo’s presence mean that Bush isn’t a Carreras or a Pavarotti man? And do we really want Elisabeth “I believe that life begins at the moment of penetration” Hasselbeck speaking for the American public?! And what the hell is Jim Nantz doing there anyway?!

We need a bi-partisan Senate commission to look into this!

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