Themacforums – Biden Welcomes Macron for a State Dinner. President Biden and President Emmanuel Macron of France celebrated their friendship with lobsters and cheese more than a year after their disagreement over submarines.
Celebrities, elected officials, corporate titans, and major donors gathered at the White House to commemorate America’s longest ally during the first official state dinner of Mr. Biden’s presidency, marking the latest development in the restoration of post-pandemic normalcy.
About 300 guests clinked glasses as Mr. Biden gave his toast, saying, “Vive la France, and God bless America.”
“We come from the same ideals, and principles,” Mr. Macron added as he raised his glass.
The French president remarked, “Long live France, long live the United States of America, and long live our friendship.”
The Bidens and the Macrons started the evening by following military personnel down the White House’s Grand Staircase, posing for a picture, and then making their way to dinner on the South Lawn under a tented pavilion. The first lady, Jill Biden, wore an Oscar de la Renta navy off-the-shoulder gown, and Brigitte Macron wore an ivory Louis Vuitton gown with a high neck.
The visitors passed by photographers and reporters who yelled questions as they made their way through a White House passageway that is typically utilized for book sales.
The Grammy-winning pianist and composer Jon Batiste predicted that his performance for Mr. Biden and Mr. Macron will “be fire.” Suleika Jaouad, a cancer patient and author who is the wife of Mr. Batiste, declared, “This is my first time out in a year.”
The Oscar-winning actress Ariana DeBose exclaimed that she “couldn’t be more pleased” to visit the White House alongside activist and Funny or Die owner Henry R. Muoz III.
When asked if it seemed similar to her political comedy “Veep,” actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus said it was “quite exciting” to be back at the White House, but she remained silent.
Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, casually mentioned that his conversation with Elon Musk this week had been “quite pleasant” while sitting at the head table with the Bidens, the Macrons, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and others. The editor-in-chief of Vogue, Anna Wintour, praised a reporter’s attire.
Low-key domestic politics were maintained. Republican congressman from Louisiana Steve Scalise smiled as majority leader Senator Chuck Schumer of New York held up the improvised red carpet to demonstrate to reporters his fluency in French.
Republicans are expected to assume control of the House in January, and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California acknowledged that Mr. Biden could offer some room for compromise. When questioned about what it would be like to dine with Mr. Biden’s son Hunter, who the Republicans want to look into if they win the majority, he avoided answering the question.
We’re going to have a great time because I’m having dinner with my mom, Mr. McCarthy replied.
The food was another factor. The 2019–20 World Cheese Awards Champion Rogue River Blue from Oregon was served to the Macrons along with caviar, an American cheese course, and butter-poached Maine lobster.
The crabs presented some conflict. Whole Foods announced on Monday that it would cease purchasing lobster from the state due to environmental groups’ concerns that endangered North Atlantic right whales have been entangled in fishing gear.
The dish was created by White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford, who made a point of complimenting the lobstermen in Maine.
The dinner’s theme was red, white, and blue, “inspired by the shared colors of our flags,” according to the first lady’s office, which was mostly in charge of organizing it.
In order to represent the shared colors of the two countries, the White House set red roses, blue delphiniums, and white irises, the official flower of France, on each table during the dinner. The White House garden provided the squashes for the lunch, but the dishes were borrowed. (To prevent damage to the official White House china, it is not allowed to leave the building.)
Both foreign leaders looked to enjoy one of the more glamorous traditions of the White House, despite Mr. Biden and Mr. Macron maintaining a somber approach for most of Thursday’s formal visit as they discussed the conflict in Ukraine and economic disputes.
Mr. Biden presented Mr. Macron with an archive facsimile print of Thomas Edison’s 1877 patent for the American phonograph as well as a special vinyl record collection of legendary American performers before he arrived. Mr. Macron presented Mr. Biden vinyl copies of the movie “Un Homme et Une Femme,” which they saw on their first date, together with the movie’s original soundtrack.
It has not always been easy for Mr. Biden and Mr. Macron to get along.
A trans-Atlantic conflict that Mr. Biden resolved to assist Australia in deploying nuclear-powered submarines ended an earlier French contract to supply conventional submarines, threatening to strain relations between the United States and France less than a year ago.
Later, Mr. Biden called the administration’s handling of the deal “clumsy,” and he has subsequently had numerous meetings with Mr. Macron.
On Thursday, none of those conflicts were evident.
Mr. Biden said in his toast that the early links between the two countries were forged in his cherished home state.
He mentioned that he was raised in a region of Delaware adjacent to the Brandywine Battlefield, “where a young man by the name of Marquis de Lafayette fought for the American cause and became good friends with a guy by the name of George Washington.”
Before coming for the state banquet, some Biden administration aides appeared to be focused on reviewing French history. According to Gene Sperling, a senior adviser to Mr. Biden, he made sure to do his daughter’s history homework before the dinner and was “reminded of who financed our revolution.”
He said, “That counts for something.