The “Washington Post” reports:
Elegant and uber-low-key, the state dinner for German Chancellor Angela Merkel was remarkably unremarkable, without a hint of intrigue or jubilant abandon, devoid of any Hollywood names. No David Hasselhoff, no Heidi Klum, no one who might steal the spotlight from the head table.
There, in the Rose Garden in front of the Oval Office, President Obama and Merkel professed their mutual admiration before 208 guests seated at tables draped in white-sequined cloth. Prior to his toast, Obama awarded the German leader the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor.
“Now, it’s customary at these dinners to celebrate the values that bind nations,” the president began. “But tonight, we want to do something different. We want to pay tribute to an extraordinary leader who espouses these values and who’s inspired millions around the world, including me. And that’s my friend, Angela Merkel.”
Merkel, the first European leader to be hosted by the Obama White House on an official visit, is one of the few foreign dignitaries to receive the medal (others include Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela and Helmut Kohl, who was the most recent German leader to be honored with a state dinner, in 1995).