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Stephen Colbert does an excellent job of explaining to us why the right wing yammerers have clutched on a segment of Jodi Kantor's new book, The Obamas, to insinuate that our First Family is a satanic bunch of big spenders using taxpayer funds to entertain kids.
The whole story is much ado about nothing. Even Kantor doesn't say it was secret, acknowledging that pool reporters were invited to cover it. I was able to easily find reports about it, since yes, there were photos posted on Flickr, video on the White House website, and numerous reports about it at the time. As Steve Benen notes, it's a bit of a stretch to understand how this translates into a secret.
But as long as we're on the subject of Kantor's book, here's a brief review. I'm about halfway through it now. It's more of a compilation of other people's impressions than it is an account of the White House and the Obama family's time there. She's sourced everything, but the problem is that the sources are still second-hand. She interviewed staffers and former staffers, as well as friends and others surrounding the President, but tells a story through others' lenses rather than from her own perspective. As such, it tends to magnify relatively minor events while glossing over others which are more consequential. Overall, I'd suggest waiting for the first-person accounts.
With that said, Ilyse Hogue has a different take on the book and its value.
For a President that has been criticized for holding the public at arm's length, the portrayal of him in the book can add texture to his humanity as a time voters are looking to reconnect to their incumbent president. And while pundits speak of a potential enthusiasm gap among women voters, the story of the First Lady's influence over her devoted husband's agenda can help give confidence to a coveted demographic that can secure margins of victory in tight races.
As for the right-wing frenzy over the 2009 Halloween party, I'd say Colbert sums it up best.