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Ken Adelman
Political advisor

Ken Adelman

A Reagan-era Ambassador and Arms Control Director, Ken Adelman is co-founder and vice-president of Movers and Shakespeares, which offers executive training and leadership development.

Political greasing

State dinners are less "symbolic signaling" than "political greasing." Sure, they indicate who is important - those invited are on the A-List of Washington's socialite "plum book" - and what is important - cellist Pablo Casals for the Kennedys and Country & Western music for the Bushes.

Beyond that, however, relationships are heightened and debts are deepened by State Dinner invitations. That's more critical, since personal relationships are central to achieving results in politics, as in most endeavors of life. House Speaker Sam Rayburn once quipped that anyone who couldn't size up another person in five minutes "doesn't belong in my profession." That clueless fellow probably doesn't belong in many other professions, either.

That's why Shakespeare's Henry Vth - who learned how to size people up from the master, Falstaff, while hanging around the Eastcheap Tavern - became a far more successful ruler than was his father, a cold calculating type who lacked such guidance and experience.

I've long wondered why the Protocol Office fills so many precious seats with top State and Defense Department officials. They're all fine folks, dedicated and able. But a president doesn't need to woo them. After all, they work for him.

Rather, he needs to fill those most sought-after seats with folks who can help him a lot, but aren't on his payroll - above all, members of Congress, governors, pundits and journalists, and lots and lots of big-time campaign financiers. They're the ones who provide the milk of American politics.

Around this core group - those the president needs to get his next monument built for a successful administration - I'd sprinkle a (very) few Cabinet officers and several stars from sports and movies, television and literature, to give the evening the glitter it deserves. It's still the best ticket in town.

By Ken Adelman

 |  November 23, 2009; 3:23 PM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Please report offensive comments below.

Angie12106: Wise and wonderful? You must also be looking forward to the Kool-aid they'll be serving at the gala you're looking forward to.

Posted by: jahoby | November 24, 2009 12:49 PM
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dunnhault wrote>>>The idea of inviting "sports and movie stars" would be a gross insult to the visiting dignitaries.

Hopefully, some stars from "Slumdog" will be there tonight - and other Indian Hollywood celebrities!

Posted by: angie12106 | November 24, 2009 12:31 PM
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It's wise and wonderful that Obama is rolling out the Red Carpet for the Prime Minister of India - the largest democracy in the world.
And to Pakistan, the message is clear: shape up!
Looking forward to a big gala event tonight!!

Posted by: angie12106 | November 24, 2009 12:27 PM
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Posted by: goldengate
Perhaps they will all have a belly ache from some E. Coli or Salmonella contamination.

Perhaps not. It's a vegetarian meal. Go back and climb into your John Birch cave.

Posted by: bs2004 | November 24, 2009 12:09 PM
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Here's two things I think about when contemplating the state dinner for this dude:

a) If I were president, I would be tempted to recreate the meal Indiana Jones and party had in the Temple of Doom movie. What fun would that be??

b) What are the bathroom facilities like in the "big tent?" Surely they are not porta potties (or are they?)

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | November 24, 2009 11:01 AM
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King Arthur was invited but couldn't make it because he can't get his sword out of the stone.

Posted by: jeangerard1 | November 24, 2009 10:39 AM
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A sprinkling of Hollywood beauties must not be overlooked

Posted by: jyotsnaandbishan | November 24, 2009 10:09 AM
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Gee, another avenue where a washed up and discredited hack like Adleman can pretend to still be somebody. Whopee!

Posted by: larmoecurl | November 24, 2009 9:48 AM
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The head of India arrives with a large entourage of state servants because it is tremendously important that they get to meet their opposite numbers to foster closer contacts at all administrative levels. The idea of inviting "sports and movie stars" would be a gross insult to the visiting dignitaries.

Posted by: dunnhaupt | November 24, 2009 8:34 AM
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Perhaps they will all have a belly ache from some E. Coli or Salmonella contamination.

Posted by: goldengate | November 24, 2009 8:12 AM
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And who's surprised that Ken Adelman

would use an American state dinner as a
fundraising event? Like, you don't have to read the other Shakespeare that applies here to understand.

Some things are about something else.

Posted by: whistling | November 23, 2009 5:08 PM
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