How Trump can feed his followers

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The State Department tries to hide the costs of White House state dinners, which are paid for by taxpayers. Here is President Obama, speaking at a state dinner in March.

TODAY WE look at how Donald Trump can woo opponents or mollify supporters in the event he doesn't "drain the swamp."

Let's start small, since the Washington we know and loathe likely isn't changing soon.

Lobbyists and moneyed interests remain in place and power. While Trump maybe owes them nothing, Congress feeds on them, and Congress has large appetites.

So, say big stuff on Trump's menu - the wall, mass deportations, term limits - aren't ordered up or served.

Trump can offer a symbol of change. He can end White House state dinners.

Here's why.

They epitomize the isolated, insulated, clubby, elite, bubble world of Washington.

They cost a ton. They co-opt media. They wave privilege in the face of underprivileged and average Americans whose taxes pay the bill.

And Washington tries to hide the cost.

It took Freedom of Information requests and 13 months for CBS News to pry some costs from the State Department two years ago.

Five dinners with 200 to 300 guests each that were held between 2009 and 2011 cost taxpayers $2 million. Two cost more than $560,000 apiece.

And that was then. Imagine now since size and extravagance has expanded.

Just last month, the Obama White House threw a state dinner for Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi with a guest list of 500.

There was the usual crowd of pols, entertainers and media bigwigs from NBC, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, etc.

(And, by the way, journalists should cover, not partake in, taxpayer-funded parties.)

Four courses, three different wines (because who doesn't like a good salad wine?), all overseen by celebrity chef Mario Batali, featuring the sort of everyday fare served in homes across the country.

From the White House: "The first course is a velvety pillow of paper-thin pasta stuffed with a puree of sweet potatoes, garnished with a hint of nutmeg and Italian parsley, and topped with browned butter and sage leaves . . . finished with grated Vella Select Dry Monterey Jack cheese from Sonoma County, California, which adds a tangy and salty layer."

I got yer tangy and salty right here.

You don't want to know about the prime tenderloin course, the quality of the wines or the rest of the menu.

I just hope the event succeeds in keeping us from war with Italy.

Every administration holds these self-celebratory shindigs. I've never understood why world leaders don't dine quietly together if enhanced relationship is the goal.

And why should taxpayers buy gourmet meals for White House guests such as Jerry Seinfeld or Giorgio Armani, two of the first lady's hair stylists and her makeup artist (I'm not making this up), and, in the past, Whoopi Goldberg or Brian Williams?

Trump should dump the dinners.

Yeah, it's not yuge change. No, it won't dent the deficit.

But Trump gets symbolism. He's foregoing, for example, a salary, just as President Kennedy did. (I know, I know: "Donald, you are no Jack Kennedy.")

And if a goal of the new administration is to make Americans feel it IS their government, how about ending a practice that shows the vast majority of Americans how their money's spent on parties, people and social stratum so far from their lives?

Mr. President-Elect, you should vacation at your own resorts, not take many foreign trips, forget suing those women you groped or prosecuting Hillary, unite the country, create jobs, etc., etc. And feel free to dine with foreign leaders.

But elaborate White House bashes are grating. Don't make America grate again.

baerj@phillynews.com

Blog: ph.ly/BaerGrowls

Columns: ph.ly/JohnBaer