Analysis & Opinions - The Washington Post

Pompeo’s ‘Madison Dinners’ Aren’t Scandalous. I Went to One.

| May 26, 2020

When assessing the Trump administration, let’s make sure that our outrage meters are well-calibrated, so that we don’t waste time on trivial topics. A case in point is the recent uproar over the “Madison Dinners” held by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife, Susan.

I have an unusual personal perspective on this latest “scandal,” because my wife and I were among the guests at a dinner hosted by the Pompeos on Nov. 18.

Critics have argued that the secretary was misusing public funds at this dinner and a handful of others, but it didn’t feel that way sitting in the room. It seemed like the many other times I’ve been with previous secretaries at events like these. The only surprising thing was that I was invited, given what I had written about Pompeo. But I’ll get to that later.

There were about 20 guests, as I remember, mostly couples. We had cocktails in the lavish, main Diplomatic Reception Room where the State Department holds big events and then retreated to a smaller room, known as the James Madison Dining Room.

This was supposed to be a social event, as opposed to a business dinner. But in Washington, let’s be honest, it’s all business, all the time. The other guests included an ambassador and his wife, a senator, a member of the House, a former baseball commissioner and his wife, and several prominent businesspeople.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Ignatius, David.“Pompeo’s ‘Madison Dinners’ Aren’t Scandalous. I Went to One..” The Washington Post, May 26, 2020.