Yuletide elegance at the Laxalts

  • The Washington Examiner
  • -
  • 12/2005

by Karen Feld

Hidden Oaks, the McLean home of former Sen. Paul Laxalt, R-Nev., and his extraordinary wife, Carol, was the scene of one of Washington’s top holiday parties Wednesday evening. The annual event, filled with A-list guests – mostly prominent GOPers past and present – was executed flawlessly except for one traffic glitch: Gen. Colin Powell was pacing the foyer for 25 minutes waiting for the valet parking attendant to find his car so he could go home.”When I came and saw the vice president’s motorcade … I thought I’d go to Tysons Corner and come back,” said the former secretary of state, who understandably misses the convenience of a driver.

Jack Kemp added: “It’s easier to park at a Redskins game.”

But most of the guests didn’t seem to mind, since the wait offered even more time to chat. It was one of those rare, elegant yet relaxing evenings where guests – including Vice President Dick Cheney and Lynne Cheney, Sen. George Allen and former Sen. Chuck Robb, Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson, longtime House GOP leader Bob Michel, Sam Donaldson, Andrea Mitchell, former Ambassador Andrew Jacovides and his wife, Pamela, former Attorney General Ed Meese, White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and others – gathered in the kitchen eating chili and in the dining room around the crab cakes.

Scalia sees Alito approval

Justice Antonin Scalia was asked about Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito‘s chances: “He’ll get through the Gang of 14. They won’t take this on. If the Democrats decide to do a filibuster, they won’t be able to sustain it. There will likely be some blood on the floor, but he’ll survive.”

Verbal footwork

And there was talk of the master of self-generated press, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. – who is not in a mutual admiration society with Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J. – leaking House Democratic Caucus Chairman Robert Menendez‘s name as Corzine’s replacement in the Senate before any official announcement. It’s just another shot. Corzine has said: “Sharing a media market with Chuck Schumer is like sharing a banana with a monkey.”

Fishing to help the troops

Former Redskin John Riggins and his wife, Lisa Marie, talked to Sen. Allen and his wife, Susan, about plans for a fishing tournament in Montauk, N.Y., next summer to raise funds for the troops and their families. Mrs. Allen advised them to work through their own foundation, The John Riggins Foundation, not the USO – otherwise, she said, “you’ll get lost.”

When Joe Gibbs came back last year as coach, Riggins said, “I thought about reinventing Riggo’s Raiders to help disabled veterans.” And we thought you’d want to know that the Riggins’ 1-year-old daughter, Coco, was named after singer Koko Taylor but spelled like the more fashionable Coco Chanel. Her given middle name was Jewel, but “we changed it to ‘Merit’ in case she wants to be president,” Riggins told me.

Riggo’s 20-year-old comment

I reminded Riggo, who has grayed and matured, that the last time I saw him was in 1985. He was intoxicated and on the floor under the table at the Washington Press Club Foundation’s congressional dinner yelling to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, “Come on, Sandy baby, loosen up. You’re too tight.” He laughed and said: “I’m glad I had a witness.”

War is like golf?

“You only do what’s possible,” retired Marine Corps Commandant Gen. P.X. Kelley said, talking about war, and adding that the war in Iraq is “doable.” “War is like a golf game with obstacles along the way.” Well, maybe the problem is some of us play tennis, not golf.

White House or St. Michaels?

One guest told me that Dick Cheney told a pal visiting his ranch that he wanted to run for president in 2008. Now insiders were saying that he can’t go for it because we don’t know what his aide, Scooter Libby, will say. Another guest commented that he was glad that Cheney got out and is talking to people. Meanwhile, Lynne Cheney, looking lovely in a winter white suit, said she’s been spending time fixing up their St. Michaels getaway on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She has been spotted in Restoration Hardware as well as furniture stores. She told me they enjoy going there, even if just for 24 hours.

Holiday vacation talk

What’s a holiday party without holiday talk even in workaholic Washington? Former Republican National Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf and his family will have Christmas dinner at the Laxalts‘ … Jack Kemp is taking all 26 Kemps to Vail, Colo. … The Cheneys will go to Wyoming … Andy Card and his family will go to their home in Maine … The Bushes – including the president’s parents, siblings and their kids – will share Christmas at Camp David and then head to Texas the next day.

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