Last Wednesday, when First Lady Michelle Obama was asked by a group of reporters how she would celebrate her 46th birthday on Sunday she said, “right now, we don’t have big plans that I know of. I think I might go out to dinner with my husband, but I don’t know yet. I haven’t been invited.”
Well, she was invited out by her husband Saturday evening.
President Obama and a group of pals joined Mrs. Obama for a four hour birthday dinner at Restaurant Nora, one of the nicest, upscale, non-pretentious foodie havens in the city featuring “new American” cuisine. Restaurant Nora gets its food from organic growers and farmers who practice sustainable agriculture.
The dinner was the main party for Mrs. Obama. Mrs. Obama’s staff feted her with a birthday cake on Friday in the East Wing.
On Sunday, the Obamas went to church services in Washington — only the fourth time they have been to a church in the city since the start of the Obama administration, which marks its first anniversary on Wednesday.
Later on Sunday, Obama jets to Massachusetts to stump for Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley, who has been losing ground in polls as she heads to Tuesday’s special election to fill the seat of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) If the seat turns Republican, the Democrats forfeit their supermajority in the Senate — the 60 votes needed to block a filibuster — which puts the health overhaul bill and other major Obama initiatives in jeopardy.
The pool report said Obama took his wife out for a surprise dinner, but based on her Wednesday comments, it seems that Mrs. Obama may have had a hint of what was coming. Their daughters, Sasha, 8 and Malia, 11, “appeared,” according to the pool report, to not be with the group. The motorcade left at the White House at 6:32 p.m. and arrived at the restaurant, near Dupont Circle, at 6:38 p.m. A friend of mine who happened to be at Nora’s said the other restaurant patrons went through security frisks before going to their table. The Obama party was in one of Nora’s upstairs dining rooms.
No word on what they ordered. For those keeping a timeline, the main course was served by 8:43 p.m. and deserts came at 9:04 p.m. Mrs. Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, wearing a black pant suit, was the first to leave at 9:40 p.m., with other guests then starting to depart.
From the pool report: “Reporters shouted “How was the party?” and “Was the First Lady surprised?” to a group of unidentified guests. The first question was unanswered, but one woman said the First Lady was indeed “surprised.”
“The First Couple exited the restaurant at 10:10 to the loud applause of bystanders. A group of about 50 people gathered at the corner of Florida and R streets and sang “Happy Birthday” as the President and First Lady walked to their car. The First Couple waved at the crowd, and then the crowd cheered again as the motorcade left the restaurant.”
Besides Mrs. Robinson, Attorney General Eric Holder and his wife Sharon Malone were in the group. Most of the other guests come from their circle of Chicago friends, many of whom joined the Obama administration: Valerie Jarrett, Senior White House adviser; Susan Sher, the First Lady’s chief of staff and Cindy Moelis, director of the White House Fellows program. Eric and Cheryl Whitaker and Mary Nesbitt and wife Anita Blanchard, Chicago friends, came to town for the dinner as did Elizabeth Alexander, a former University of Chicago faculty member now at Yale, who delivered a poem at the Obama inauguration. Also at the table was Jocelyn Frye, Mrs. Obama Harvard Law School classmate and Director of Policy and Projects in the First Lady’s office.
Last year, Mrs. Obama spent her 45th birthday on the Inauguration Special train, making its way from Philadelphia to Washington.