In recognition of the close relationship between the United States and Australia, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden held a state dinner for Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his girlfriend, Jodie Haydon. The continuous suffering and loss of life in the Middle East, however, meant that the festivities had to be toned down. The White House instead decided to serve comfort food and play instrumental music for the event. The fourth state dinner of Biden’s presidency had confirmed participation from over 300 guests, including members of Congress, elected officials, financiers for Biden’s presidential campaign, labor representatives, CEOs, and Hollywood star John Leguizamo.
In light of the tragic events, the White House had to make some alterations to the entertainment plans, and first lady Jill Biden recommended the American new wave band the B-52s. Both the fight between Israel and Hamas and the Russian aggression against Ukraine went unmentioned. Chocolate Hazelnut mousse cake with creme fraiche gelato followed the sarsaparilla-braised short ribs and butternut squash soup on the menu.
To emphasize the importance of Biden’s involvement with allies as an essential diplomatic activity for a U.S. president, the White House indicated that canceling or postponing Albanese’s visit was not conceivable. Oregon Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden voiced his concern over the conflict between Israel and Hamas and applauded the Bidens for opting for calmer instrumental music.
Haydon opted for a tulle gown made by Paolo Sebastian and embellished with embroidered native Australian birds and flora, while Jill Biden donned a silver blush gown by Beirut native Reem Acra. The meal will be held under a temporary pavilion on the White House lawn, adorned in soft pastels to evoke the spirit of spring in Australia and fall in the United States.
This was the toned-down version of the occasion.
Meanwhile, Bidenomics has average Americans on shaky financial ground.