About 20 people, a long table, a backyard under a fall night sky, carved pumpkins and gourds, candles flickering everywhere, pomegranate margaritas, a magnificent meal (some of which also arrived in personal pumpkins) — and the equally uber-connected and delightful Margaret Carlson and Judith Czelusniak as co-hostesses.
This was how I spent yesterday evening when I decided that pain from my oral surgery would be more easily distracted by Carlson and friends — than Bob Gates speaking at the annual dinner for the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs which I had originally planned to ‘engage.’
It was just about one of the most hip dinners I’ve been to in Washington — next to an equally fabulous night that came with a lightning and rain storm that made an evening hosted by the New York Times‘ Helene Cooper, AP’s Anne Gearan, and CNN’s Elisa Abbot seem like something magnificent but other-worldly out of Witches of Eastwick.
Margaret Carlson is, of course, political columnist for Bloomberg News, appears on CNN’s “Capital Gang” and is Washington Editor for The Week while Judith Czelusniak heads public relations for Bloomberg in New York and controls the guest list for the big Bloomberg bash after the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The guest included Bob Bennett (yep, the one who defended Bill Clinton, Judith Miller, has a great voice, and a brother named Bill), Andy Card brother-in-law and Romney supporter Ron Kaufman, Inside Washington host Gordon Peterson, Anne Schroeder of Politico, Patrick Gavin of the Washington Examiner, political wunderkind Michael Allen of Politico‘s “Playbook,” Qorvis PR Managing Director David Bass, a really into-his-new-role (and impressively informed) Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Center for Amerian Progress General Counsel Debbie Fine, Washington Post editorial writer and gay debates co-anchor Jonathan Capehart, and the political and smart energizer bunny of this party, MSNBC’s Tammy Haddad.
This is one of those great parties that you sort of see on TV and wonder if they really happen. There were other folks there but perhaps none who had three and half hours of oral surgery the same day and completely forgot the pain because of the mesmerizing discussions.
Tammy Haddad was the first to sense how excited I was getting about the fact that just about everyone was saying something that would be top paragraph in an Al Kamen column but no one had said “off the record.” She’s been a blogger I’ve since learned — and yelled out, “wait! wait! consipiracist blogger in the room — it’s all off the record.”
So, it will have to stay that way — with two exceptions. Everyone went around the table and prognosticated on who would win the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations — and who their respective running mates would be. First of all, not a single person picked Obama. Amazing.
Lots like Huckabee as Vice President. A couple liked Biden. I was surprised by that. Someone said Hillary would pick Bob Graham as her VP running mate. Many who saw Giuliani winning the nomination saw him picking McCain as his VP — and then they’d have a hearty laugh.
I said that as things looked to me at that moment in my heavy advil and pomegranate margarita state, Hillary Clinton looked like she’d win the nomination. I said she might pick Evan Bayh or even a Wes Clark as a running mate. Someone yelled out Richardson — and a gaggle of voices said “no way.” Someone then yelled Vilsack, and folks went silent, pondering that.
I then predicted Romney would beat Giuliani — and he’d pick Hagel if the war was really, really bad and worsening and if he needed to distance himself further from the Cheney gang — most of whom are joining the Giuliani bandwagon anyway. But realistically, if the economy is in bad shape and Romney wanted to lure some semi-alienated fervent non-Mormon Christians to his camp, he’d pick Huckabee.
One lad suggested that Romney needed someone from the Midwest rather than the South, but then said that there wasn’t anyone in the Midwest that came to mind. . .and Hagel didn’t count according to this person.
The second thing I can drag into the record was said by super lawyer Bob Bennett. He said that “I will not support any Democrat who stands on the platform with Al Sharpton, and you can quote me on that.”
So I have.
Judith Czelusniak and Margaret Carlson are just amazing hosts — so my recommendation to you is if you ever are double booked and have a dinner elsewhere planned and one or the other calls you, choose them.
More later — I need some more advil now.
— Steve Clemons