White House Christmas party: a 17-year-old's Nobel chat with Obama

What a high school senior, taking advantage of an entree to a White House Christmas party, said to Obama about his Nobel Peace Prize speech.

What do you say to the president of the United States when you’re a 17-year-old young lady and want to come across as reasonably intelligent and, well, not too smitten?

You tell Mr. Obama what you did at school that day. And it just so happens that in AP Comparative Government, the teacher had the class read and discuss Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize lecture from last Thursday. Perfect. She would tell him that. He’ll love the fact that his much-discussed speech became a teachable moment, at least in Ms. Caccamise’s class at Woodrow Wilson High School here in Washington.

As we stood in the long receiving line at Monday night’s White House Christmas party for the media, waiting to meet the Obamas, Rebecca rehearsed her line over and over again.

“You know,” I said to my daughter, “he’s going to ask you what you thought of it.”

I suggested she tell him that she appreciated his idealistic realism, or maybe realistic idealism, and that she’s so grateful that she now understands “just war” theory.

Oh mom.

The moment of truth arrived, and, with considerable butterflies, she told him about the class assignment.

“And what did you think of the speech?” Obama asked.

“It was … amazing!” Rebecca replied.

“If you had brought a copy, I would have signed it for you,” Obama said.

OMG. In reality, though, that would not have been possible. When lining up for your photo with the president and first lady, White House worker bees take all your contraband from you for safe-keeping – your purse, your camera, your half-finished plate of shrimp cocktail.
But just imagine how much money you could have gotten for a signed copy of the Nobel speech on eBay, I suggested to her later (thinking ahead to crushing college tuition payments).
Rebecca’s immediate reply: “No way I would ever sell that.”


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