Arriving in a driving rain, some guests chatted with the press corps, some ignored them...with Video
President Obama and First Lady Obama invited 222 guests to this evening's State Dinner in honor of President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea. They arrived at the White House between six and seven in the evening, entering through the Booksellers Entrance in the East Wing, in the midst of a violent storm that included thunder, lightning and a drenching rain. The 8:35 PM dinner in the East Room featured a Fall Harvest menu starring Texas Wagyu Beef, and was low on Hollywood guests, unlike other State Dinners. The full guest list is here. Cabinet Secretaries, lawmakers, media personalities, the COO of Facebook, and a couple of high-profile CEOs rubbed elbows with the Korean delegation. New York chef David Chang, mastermind of Momofuku, and raised in Northern Viginia--was invited not to help cook, but to enjoy the dinner. Tennis great Billie Jean King, a member of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, is perhaps the most famous non-political guest at the dinner. (King, above, with her partner Llana Kloss).
Mrs. Obama wore a gown designed by Doo-Ri Chung and the video, below, gives a a look at what everyone else was wearing. The pool report for the arrivals follows.
For all previous State Dinners, Politico's Amie Parnes has been the pool reporter on duty, and has managed to turn what can be dry factual reports into interesting reads. Parnes continued the tradition tonight, joined for the first time by Julie Mason, a Politico reporter who usually covers far more serious topics than "Who are you wearing?"
The Booksellers Arrivals report:
Guests arrived for the state dinner just as a thunderstorm broke over downtown Washington. Women with drenched hemlines and men in saturated tuxedos were the evening standard.
First to arrive was Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in slacks and a raw silk embroidered jacket.
White House deputy senior advisor Stephanie Cutter wore a midnight blue floor length dress with vertical sequin ribbons.
Moments later, Sam Tubman, deputy White House social secretary, in a black floor-length gown, dashed by the press pen without a glance.
JuJu Chang -- "The wisdom of the crowd won," the ABC News reporter told the press pool. Chang conducted an online poll to select her dress for the event. The winner was a one-should floor-length in deep purple. (Above: Chang with her date)
"So much for the hair salon," Chang said, of the rain.
U.N. Secretary General Ban-ki Moon said of the evening, "It's a great opportunity." For what, he did not say.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, dry and resplendent, said he missed the rain. Also dodging the deluge: Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana: "We were lucky, we missed it," he said.
Sheryl Kara Sandberg, Facebook COO, told the press pool, "Nice to see you," and kept walking. (Above, with her guest)
Dr. Peter Rhee, a surgeon at the University of Arizona University Medical Center, who operated on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, appeared soaked, saying there is no rain in Arizona.
Asked what he was looking forward to this evening, Rhee said "Relaxing, enjoying the moment. Great to be here tonight."
Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said, when asked if everybody was friends tonight at the White House, "Ah, sure. We put those types of differences away."
CNN anchor Candy Crowley, with longtime CNN producer Michael Rosselli, waved to the press on her way into the mansion.
Terribly chic in her tux and heels with a dramatic, pompadour-esque updo was Janelle Monae, who also was a singer performing later in the evening.
James Biden, bearing a strong resemblance to his brother the vice president, smiled and nodded at reporters as he passed.
Tina Tchen, first lady's chief of staff, was all smiles and no conversation as she made her way toward the party.
Arriving stag, Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, was on the later end of arrivals and did not stop to discuss. (Above)
Tennis legend Billie Jean King, attired in a black pantsuit with black Nike sneakers -- to which she gave two thumbs up -- said she had been reading up on South Korea ahead of the dinner. King said she supports anything that helps the jobs situation and American optimism.
"I hope to listen a lot, and just learn, and meet some new acquaintances," she said.
Finally, CBS News anchor Scott Pelley was last to arrive. It was Pelley's second state dinner. His first was in 1998, "so it's been awhile, as I recall," he said.
*Photos by AP/Reuters; video by Politico