Baldrige, kindly offered Rogers some helpful tips, like always having a backup plan if the First Lady is unable to attend a function or, for state dinners, checking whether any of the guests have children and, if they do, arranging for a signed gift from the First Family to mark the occasion—something special, like a book, that they will remember for a lifetime.
"Desirée is so poised and so charming, so substantial and capable, but nonetheless I told her how important it is to always stand up to the West Wing," Baldrige recounted later. "The West Wing is the men's side, and they will want to push you to put all those politicians on the dinner lists, and you've got to be strong and say no. Always represent what the First Lady and the president want. In the case of the Obamas, it's an exciting mix of people—not paybacks."
The mandate the Obamas have given her, Rogers said, "is about instilling pride." Her job "is helping people visualize what the Obama presidency is about, the feelings Americans voted for—inclusion, transparency, embracing people you might never otherwise learn about—and also translating the splendor, that sweetness, that comfort of the White House to everyone." She paused and smiled. "Enormous task."
Indeed, in these troubled economic times, how exactly will the Obamas revitalize the White House? "Using the assets already there," Rogers said. "We have to be balanced. People think that being 'social' means hosting a lavish party, but that's not true. We all thrive on social interaction, and we must continue to," despite the economy.
Desiree Rogers was interviewed for VOGUE'S February 2009 issue which will be out on newstands on Inauguration day, January 20th. You can continue reading more of this article over at VOGUE.