The story of Michaele and Tareq Salahi of Virginia, the couple who crashed the state dinner between President Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, continues to unwind.
Let’s get things straight here: I’m very sceptical this is the first time this has happened at a state dinner. In fact, my bet is such crashers have been at many such events, probably at least one per Administration. Rather, in the age of Facebook, this is the first time such crashers have posted pictures of their deed online. Not unlike 9/11, this should be a true surprise only if you’re ignorant, naive, or both.
All that aside, though, more than anything the whole fuss reminds me of a long quote by Leopold Kohr in The Breakdown of Nations. It’s spot on, especially so today:
A citizen of the Principality of Liechtenstein, whose population numbers less than fourteen thousand, (in 1957 when Kohr was writing) desirous to see His Serene Highness the Prince and Sovereign, Bearer of many exalted orders and Defender of many exalted things, can do so by ringing the bell at his castle gate. However serene His Highness may be, he is never an inaccessible stranger. A citizen of the massive American republic, on the other hand, encounters untold obstacles in a similar enterprise. Trying to see his fellow citizen President, whose function is to be his servant, not his master, he may be sent to an insane asylum for observation or, if found sane, to a court on charges of disorderly conduct. Both happened in 1950… You will say that in a large power such as the United States informal relationships such as exist between government and citizen in small countries are technically unfeasible. This is quite true. But this is exactly it. Democracy in its full meaning is impossible in a large state which, as Aristotle already observed, is ‘almost incapable of constitutional government’. (pg. 99-100)