Gen. Colin Powell drove the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, but then raced back to D.C. to participate in the annual National Memorial Day concert with actors Joe Mantegna, Gary Sinise (just back from a USO tour), Charles Durning and vocalists Vanessa Williams, Harolyn Blackwell and Trace Adkins (who said he’s never sung with that many “fiddles”) on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol. The former Secretary of State Powell, who escorted Ruby Dee on stage, remembered Dee’s husband, the late actor Ossie Davis, the World War II veteran, who had hosted the show each year. Powell called Davis “a true Renaissance man” and “an American hero.”
Bob Michel: still the historian … and singer
Former House GOP leader Bob Michel emceed the reception following the concert in Statuary Hall – reminding guests that location used to be the chambers of the U.S. House of Representatives. His longtime colleague, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a Vietnam vet and 30-year congressman, was honored for his role in co-founding this Memorial Day Concert 16 years ago. Maestro Erich Kunzel said when he first conducted the NSO at this concert, “We had a fantastic baritone – Bob Michel.” (By the way, Michel’s voice is still marvelous!)
Powell recalls charting his way for DoD dollars
Gen. Powell pointed out that generals like charts but Murtha, a ranking member of the powerful Defense Appropriations subcommittee, hated them. “Every time I went to testify [before the Appropriations committee] I made sure I had lots of charts, but I got my money,” said Powell. “That’s all that mattered.”
The taste test
Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said, “There are 10 holidays – this is the one that enabled the rest to happen.” And talking about Murtha, Myers said, “He has energy, imagination and a sense of public spirit and service, but is not an easy man to please. He was responsible for several improvements to the Tabasco packs [served with the meals in the field].”
While we’re all making nice, please vote for the transportation bill
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, who served in the House with Murtha and Michel for more than 20 years, didn’t miss the opportunity to lobby for the transportation bill before Congress.
Indy excitement for Patrick reminds Murtha of his grandmother
And with all the buzz about Danica Patrick, the first woman favorite at the 500 and the only female ever to lead during the race, Murtha recalled his grandmother, who was ahead of her time. “She would have been one of those women driving the car in Indianapolis.”
Place to meet: Can they all fit in the Ritz?
The downtown Ritz-Carlton was the place to be Thursday evening. President Bush stopped by for a meeting on the 10th floor with a number of ambassadors.
Leonel Fernandez, the former president of the Dominican Republic, was staying in the hotel, as was Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), who was spotted with his armed escorts. Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, was seen in the bar, as were many of the NFL owners in town for the spring meeting.
And we even had some baseball going on there in Penthouse II, where the DC Baseball Association hosted a party in honor of Chairman Mark Tuohey III and the members of the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission. Tuohey was pleased: “Together, under Neil Alpert’s leadership, the DCBBA and the Sports Commission have already worked together to fix fields and make sure that our city reaps the full benefits of Major League Baseball’s return!” Guests included Dennis Hightower, the former president of Disney Television; Marc Barnes, the owner of Dream Nightclub; Thomas Murray, the treasurer for Mayor Williams’ campaign; Erik Linden, the mayor’s speechwriter; and Virginia Williams, the mayor’s feisty mom.
… And tomorrow, the Hillary fundraiser is the place to be
Sen. Hillary Clinton has kept up her Hollywood contacts made in the White House. German director / producer Roland Emmerich (“Godzilla,” “Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow”) is throwing a fundraiser for her at his Hollywood home tomorrow evening. Co-sponsors are Christina Aguilera, Jake Gyllenhaal, Scarlett Johansson and Lindsay Lohan. A “special musical guest” is promised.