Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Bill Clinton pose with the 2011 Kennedy Center Honorees, front row from left, Sonny Rollins, Barbara Cook, back row from left, Yo-Yo Ma, Meryl Streep and Neil Diamond at the State Department following a dinner and reception on Dec. 3
President Barack Obama will host the five recipients of the 34th Kennedy Center Honors at a White House reception before attending the evening gala at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Merle Haggard (left) during the Kennedy Center Honorees Reception at the White House, December 5
Rolling Stone – Merle Haggard: “It was also nice to meet Obama and find him very different from the media makeout. It’s really almost criminal what they do with our President. There seems to be no shame or anything. They call him all kinds of names all day long, saying he’s doing certain things that he’s not. It’s just a big old political game that I don’t want to be part of. There are people spending their lives putting him down. I’m sure some of it’s true and some of it’s not. I was very surprised to find the man very humble and he had a nice handshake. His wife was very cordial to the guests and especially me. They made a special effort to make me feel welcome. It was not at all the way the media described him to be.”
What’s the biggest lie out there about Obama?
He’s not conceited. He’s very humble about being the President of the United States, especially in comparison to some presidents we’ve had who come across like they don’t need anybody’s help…..
Did you talk to the President much?
I told him, “You and I have something in common: our wives are both taller than we are.” And he said “No! She’s got on 3-inch heels! And she is not that tall!” He was like me. He grabbed that real quick.
The President & First Lady host the Kennedy Center Honorees Reception at the White House. Later, they will attend a ceremony at the Kennedy Center.
This year’s recipients: singer and songwriter Merle Haggard; composer and lyricist Jerry Herman; dancer, choreographer and director Bill T. Jones; songwriter and musician Paul McCartney; and producer, television host and actress Oprah Winfrey.
As overflow guests look on in the Grand Foyer, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wait to be introduced before the Kennedy Center Honors event that was held in the East Room of the White House, Dec. 6, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)