ISO: A perfect 10 Dem candidate

  • The Washington Examiner
  • |
  • April 13, 2006

by Karen Feld

buzzOne longtime Democratic Party strategist told me his dream presidential candidate for 2008 would be a combination of Hillary Clinton and Katie Couric — Clinton’s brains and Couric’s warmth, personality and TV appeal.


Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., quickly apologized on the House floor after assaulting a Capitol Police officer with a cell phone only after the wrath of the Congressional Black Caucus came down on her last week. We hear that her colleague from Chicago, Jesse Jackson Jr., was the most vocal in his criticism, saying he didn’t want McKinney to be the “face of the Democratic Party,” as embattled Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, has become for Republicans. Some folks are still waiting for a public apology from knee-jerk celebrities — activist singer Harry Belafonte and actor Danny Glover — who blindly jumped to McKinney’s defense before details were revealed.


To welcome back Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s “Boating Party,” the Phillips Collection held a lavish tented dinner Friday evening on the lawn of the late Katharine Graham’s Georgetown home, now owned by venture capitalist Mark Ein. But it was nothing like the Black and White Ball that literary legend Truman Capote threw in Graham’s honor 40 years ago. In fact, that party of parties made such social history that it’s the subject of Deborah Davis’ (not her namesake, who wrote Graham’s bio) new book, “Party of The Century,” and coincidentally, Richard Greenberg’s, play “Bal Masque,” revealing a different side of Capote’s ball, which opened at Theater J at the DCJCC on 16th Street this week and runs through May 21.


After reading vivid accounts of guests preparing for the ball, Davis — who never met Capote or Graham — was inspired to explore what she calls “that iconic moment” and “the incredible cocktail of guests,” which included writers, movie stars, politicians and socialites. Capote engaged his guests creatively, requesting that each had a great mask and black-and-white outfit. She points out that Graham, who was quite famous in Washington, wasn’t known in New York in 1966. “It was a coming-out party for a middle-age debutante,” Davis said.

The section she wrote about the Green Book, Washington’s social register, ended on the cutting-room floor. “The publisher perceived the whole notion of finding out how to address and seat somebody as being beside the point,” said Davis, who as a New Jersey resident says she finds it amusing that there are rules for such a thing.


“The party captured a moment in time when life was more glamorous, when sex was sexier and celebrity was earned,” Davis said. “The longer ago it was, the more we yearn for it.”

So you want to host a party like Capote’s? Davis has these suggestions: Mix up the guest list; engage the guests creatively; and make sure everybody knows about the party, but don’t invite everybody. “Exclusivity still works, as it did then,” she said.

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