Barack Obama today unveiled his plans for dinner this evening, outlining how he, his wife Michelle, and two children Sasha and Malia, would be eating a nutritionally balanced meal that would see the family through until breakfast tomorrow morning.
Reaction to the announcement in Washington has been split down party lines. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi summed up the feelings of many Democrats when she described the plans as "sounding absolutely delicious," a sentiment echoed by Vice President Joe Biden, who said that it made him "hungry just thinking about it."
Senior Republicans, however, were more cautious or openly hostile. Republican House Speaker, John Boehner, a fierce critic of Obama's holiday plans last month, said that the President's dinner plans amounted to "nothing more than a reheating of last night's leftovers, with a few extra vegetables thrown in to court the left-wingers of the Democratic party ahead of the 2012 election."
Analysts have generally reacted with cautious optimism to the details of the menu. Dan Spengler, foods analyst at UBS, praised the soup starter as a welcome boost to small businesses, especially if the vegetables were cut nice and thick. "The soup is definitely a good start. And the choice of ciabatta [an italian bread seasoned with olive oil and marjoram] is a bold move that could signal a more 'European' approach of deficit spending to create badly needed jobs in the economy," said Spengler.
The main course has so far caused the most controversy. The combination of Lincolnshire pork sausages, boiled new potatoes with butter, Moroccan 'zaalouk' salad and fava beans stewed in a rich tomato sauce caught many off guard. In his speech, Obama referred to it as a "coalition of the tasty," but Aariz Hadad, a Middle East scholar at Columbia University, sees it as tokensim: "The inclusion of the zaalouk is really just a fig leaf to disguise the fact that the sausage and new potatoes are going to be doing the heavy lifting in the battle to prevent Sasha and Malia from demanding additional snacks before bedtime."
Many Republicans, with an eye to their conservative Christian base, are said to be unhappy about the choice of words for the 'fava bean' clause in the dinner plan. "In our house, and in the houses of honest, God-fearing Americans across the country, we eat broad beans. This is a typical exercise of style over substance for a style-over-substance President," said Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
Desert was the only area of the dinner plan that garnered broad bi-partisan support. "The President has reached out across the divide in Washington with his choice of apple pie with ice-cream," Vice President Biden said. But while most Republicans were generally in favor, there were rumblings of discontent in the stomachs of others: "We urgently need more apple pie, and we need it right now. By this evening I fear it's going to be too little, too late," said Eric Cantor, the Republican majority leader in the House.
"If there's any left over, can you save me some?" he added somewhat pathetically.