How do you throw a state dinner on the South Lawn when the world is burning?
By their fourth time around, the Bidens know how to do this.
First, you call off a performance by an irreverent rock band. Then you dial down the celebrity wattage. And then you serve up some root vegetables and ice cream.
But, not a joke, you don’t cancel. The party goes on because if the president cancels an event every time there is an emergency or a conflict overseas or Republicans render Congress nonfunctional, he would never leave the White House. And this state dinner, held in honor of Anthony Albanese, the Australian prime minister, was an opportunity to express a show of nuclear-powered military force to a planet that feels that it is about to spiral away from its axis.
“We must continue to advance freedom, security and prosperity for all,” President Biden said somberly at the dinner, “and continue to build a future worthy of our highest hopes, even when it’s difficult — especially when it’s difficult.”