Update 3: Some great quotes from Alfalfa Club Dinner history:
Sen. David Boren: “(Club) President (Alan) Simpson failed miserably … to resolve the most pressing issue facing our club. He failed to assuage the powerful forces demanding that we admit women. But tonight I’m here to announce a Bush-type compromise. We will admit women … posthumously.”
Pete Domenici: “My fellow Alfalfans, I have a secret weapon in our upcoming campaign. I’m blessed with the talent of … whipping the electorate to a frenzy. Just like the singer Tom Jones, women often throw their panties at me when I speak. It happened again just yesterday. I just don’t know what got into Senator (Barbara) Mikulski.”
Also, I reported earlier that the club began admitting women in 1994. They began admitting black men in 1979. Maybe this is all a sign of how far we’ve come, I don’t know, but it disturbs me that there seems to be an attempt to hide things about the club. In news accounts from prior years, the fact about Lee is offered as a throwaway. Why omit it this year?
Update 2: 3:30pm – Spoke to the White house press office again, they currently have no comment, other than to confirm that the President will be attending the dinner. Also, it turns out that, until 1994, the Alfalfa Club Dinner was, like hair dye for graying beards, Just for Men. That year, Hillary Clinton attended with President Bill Clinton, and the club inducted 3 female members, including Liddy Dole and Sandra Day O’Connor. I also found an old invitaion to the 1961 dinner.
Update: 12:16 pm – I got about 3/4 done with this story before I found out about the Robert E. Lee thing. It bugged me that nobody seemed to know about it. at first, I thought it was some joker screwing with Wikipedia, but I found the reference in that old WaPo article, too. So, I called the White House press office. The spokesman I talked to said it was the first he’d heard of it. I asked if the President was aware that the Alfalfa Dinner was in honor of Robert E. Lee’s birthday, and if he had a comment about it. I am awaiting their response.