July 30, 2009
WHITE HOUSE MAKES C.E.O.s PAY FOR LUNCH. “Four of the most powerful business leaders in America arrived at the White House one day last month for lunch with President Barack Obama, sitting down in his private dining room just steps from the Oval Office. But even for powerful CEOs, there’s no such thing as a free lunch: White House staffers collected credit card numbers for each executive and carefully billed them for the cost of the meal with the president. The White House defended the unusual move as a way to avoid conflicts of interest. But the Bush administration didn’t charge presidential guests for meals, one former official said, and at least one etiquette expert found the whole thing unseemly – suggesting it was a serious breach of protocol”
I’d say it shows the kind of humility and concern for others that we’ve seen in other settings. A reader says that Jimmy Carter did the same thing. That fits, too . . . .
UPDATE: Reader Richard Humphries writes: “Glenn, apparenly the Obama White House has been listening to Vaughn Meader’s recording of ‘The First Family’ from 1963. There was a skit where JFK has a lunch for De Gaulle, Kruschev, and several other heads of state and at the end he presents them with the bill.” Heh. Before my time, though, which means it’s also before Obama’s.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Yeah, it’s on YouTube.