At the Kennedy Center salute to Sen. Ted Kennedy on Sunday night. From left, Vice President Biden, White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Kennedy. (AP)
Sen. Ted Kennedy honored at Kennedy Center
Subject: White House Print Pool Report
POTUS and his motorcade left the White House at 18:55 to travel to the
Kennedy Center to make a cameo appearance at an event celebrating the
birthday of Senator Edward Kennedy.
The motorcade arrived at the Kennedy Center at 18:59 and POTUS entered
the building out of sight. Your poolers were escorted to a corridor just
outside the main auditorium where we were held for 50 minutes, partly
because the program was behind schedule. POTUS was kept in a separate
holding location, which your poolers surmised was probably more
comfortable than theirs.
At 19:49, your poolers were escorted into the packed auditorium. Bill
Cosby was acting as the MC for the evening, which was titled Some
Enchanted Evening: A Musical Birthday Salute to Senator Edward M.
Senator Kennedy was in the presidential box at the back of the
auditorium, seated beside FLOTUS, who had arrived earlier than POTUS.
Other dignitaries included VPOTUS, Senator John Kerry, Speaker Nancy
Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Cosby told Kennedy that the performers would sing Happy Birthday, but
joked that he wanted to have somebody make sure they started in key.
With that, POTUS (wearing a dark suit) entered from the left side of the
stage at 19:51, and received thunderous applause as the audience rose to
their feet. He proceeded to shake the hands of all the artists and,
POTUS then attempted to conduct the ensemble, which went off smoothly
after one apparent false start. After the performers and guests sang
Happy Birthday, POTUS briefly left the auditorium, and made his way up
to the presidential box where he shook hands with the assembled VIPs,
hugged Senator Kennedy and kissed FLOTUS.
POTUS and FLOTUS then clapped their hands as they swayed to a number
played by the band that your pooler did not recognize. Kerry clapped his
hands while looking slightly stiff. VPOTUS tried to whisper into POTUSs
ear. Pelosi clapped with a slight sway. Reid stood motionless
At 19:57, POTUS and FLOTUS departed the auditorium for their motorcade,
which arrived back at the White House at 20:17.
Katie Hogan, your poolers' escort-in-chief, chatted with an usher who
commented that his job was interesting because everybody in Washington
DC thinks they are more important than the next person.
Note: Your poolers were only able to catch parts of the performance
through the walls of the auditorium. But, according to the program, the
artists included Lauren Bacall, Denyce Graves, Brian Stokes Mitchell,
Phyllis Newman, Kelli OHara, Bernadette Peters (who walked past your
poolers, joking that we were not allowed entry) Hal Prince, James
Taylor, Frederica Von Stade, Colm Wilkinson, Lizz Wright, and Karen
The performers were accompanied by The Networks Tribute Choir, directed
by Rev. Nolan Williams Jr., and the Kennedy Center Opera House
Orchestra, conducted by John Williams.
And, that, is a wrap.
Pentagon & Intelligence Correspondent