Monday, January 25, 2010

Washington Social Diary

The “Georgetown for Haiti” fundraiser at full swing.
FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELTS, THE MID-TERMS ARE ON!
by Carol Joynt

It was another wild ride in Washington this past week, as President Barack Obama celebrated one year in office. There’s no way of knowing how its been for him, deep in the recesses of his heart and soul, but for watchers like me its been equal parts Avatar 3-D, Hurt Locker and The Hangover.

The week had a little of everything.

Scott Brown, winner In Massachusetts.
Rep. Martha Coakley, blamed for being loser in Massachusetts.
There was the Scott Brown election in Massachusetts that sent Democrats stumbling zombie-like into Capitol Hill and Penn Quarter power eateries, slinging blame like mashed potatoes: “She was a bad candidate.” “What do Mass voters know?” “If only Vicki had run” and, most of all: “Where was Rahm?”

At the end of the week, the President announced some internal political restructuring, and not a moment too soon with the calendar’s pages tearing away toward the November 2 mid-terms. In the Senate, 36 of the 100 seats are up and, of course, all of the House. Again, expect a wild ride.

In the aftermath of the loss of Ted Kennedy’s treasured seat to an actual Republican, the House and Senate leadership, otherwise known as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid, hinted at a new direction for health care reform legislation. Yadayadayada .... Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was caught in the middle of politically charged debate over whether he should get another four-year term. Watch the Senate votes, especially from those up for re-election, like Democrats Barbara Boxer of California and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.

The notorious polo-loving, party-crashing Salahis, Tareq and Michaele, slid into their witness chairs before the House Homeland Security Committee, invoked the Fifth Amendment 25 times, and then declared they are “strong supporters of the men and women in uniform.” Republican Dan Lungren of California, who planned to remain silent during the hearing, couldn’t restrain himself: "To have engaged in conduct that undercut the seriousness of our role to protect the president as some sort of reality TV stunt is an extraordinary affront ..."

Since people ask this question a lot, yes, the Salahis are still very much in the cast of “The Real Housewives of Washington, DC,” (duh!), which extended its filming a few weeks to capture the group dynamic of their personal drama — post-White House fiasco — pushing the show’s air date to possibly late summer.

Tareq Salahi (L) and Michaele Salahi prepare to testify before the House Homeland Security Committee, January 20, 2010 in Washington, DC. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America).
O'Brien got fired and Leno has to do the White House Correspondents Association dinner.
Carlos Allen and Michaela Salahi, on the right. Will they be invited to the White House Correspondents Association dinner?
The Supreme Court, apparently not wanting to miss out, got their diva moment in the case of Citizen’s United v. Federal Election Commission, striking down the laws that limit corporate political spending, tossing a big juicy bone to conservatives while giving extreme tsauris to the President, who called the vote damaging and said “it gives the special interest lobbyists new leverage.” Expect to hear more when Obama delivers his first State of the Union address Wednesday evening.

An Obama note both sweet and tender comes from friends who had dinner with a member of the First Family’s Secret Service detail. He told them how much the Secret Service like the Obamas. That says a lot given the intimate nature of the relationship. At the outset the First Lady told the Secret Service “she wanted the agents to call her Michelle.” When she cited her priorities, he said, “It was ‘take care of my girls. Don’t let anything happen to my girls.'"

The week’s best was saved for last. A knee-slapping announcement that the White House Correspondents Association hired Jay Leno to be the comedy at their annual spring hoedown that tries to pass itself off as a serious dinner.

Hiring Leno confirms the Washington media are so out of the groove they're ready for the nursing home, or someone at WHCA has a wicked sense of humor, seeing a common bond between between management at NBC and within the Obama Administration.

It was probably only Jay’s boss, Jeff Zucker, exerting what little muscle he has left, making Jay do the gig as part of his rehabilitation as a popular late night host. Insiders say the invite was in the pipeline before all the drama.

Regardless, Conan O’Brien, who was on fire after his firing, would have been the money choice, which means Jay has his work cut out for him at the May 1 gala. He has to kill.

I’m eager to learn who has the chutzpah to invite the Salahis, and “third” crasher, Carlos Allen, as their guests, because the point of the White House Correspondents dinner is for news organizations to compete against each other to bag the most preposterous guests - and attendant publicity - rather than to celebrate the pursuit of real stories and real news. 

A POP-UP HAITI FUNDRAISER

It was literally one week ago that a mutual friend, James Packard-Gomez, invited me to Georgetown Cupcake for coffee and sweets and to meet Richard Bahar. “He wants to pull together a fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders on behalf of their work in Haiti.” That was Monday.

On Friday night Richard’s fundraiser, “Georgetown for Haiti,” happened in the expansive studio space above an M Street retailer.
The space above Lululemon Atheletic, three hours before the Georgetown for Haiti fundraiser.
Joseph Reamer, right, head of the Georgetown HSBC bank, collected the checks for
Doctors Without Borders.
"Georgetown for Haiti" organizer Richard Bahar pauses in the middle of the fundraiser. Sara Moffett tries to decide which of the donated gift certificates to buy.
Richard Bahar's dog, Leo, was much adored, and photographed, during the party.
Newlyweds Marjorie Tucker-Pfeiffer and Nicholas Kask. The volunteer money collectors: Joseph Reamer and Val Volkau of HSBC.
The important part: the $11,000 raised went to Doctors Without Borders.
Candy and info about Haiti and Doctors Without Borders.
The long list of donors Richard Bahar pulled together in less than a week. One hundred percent of proceeds went to Doctors Without Borders. The popular Haitian rum.
Behar, who is founder and CEO of the Jefferson Prep educational services company, managed to pull together the donated space, food, wine, booze, a volunteer deejay and dozens of valuable gift certificate donations from an array of popular Georgetown merchants – as diverse as Erwin Gomez salon, Bacchus Wine Cellar, A Mano, the L2 private nightclub, Bourbon Steak, Spiral Flight Yoga and a night at the Ritz Carlton. He also received more than 800 acceptances to his online invitation.
A donated buffet of salads and wraps from Sweetgreen. Whole Foods donated paninis.
Dozens of cupcakes were donated by Georgetown Cupcake.
The Georgetown Dish ran a photo booth and posted the pics on their site.
Deejays Alex de Pfyffer and Alex Seilliere. Kelsey Murphy and Kilgo Livingston.
Katie Schliessman, Ashley Ulker, Kelly Bauer, Andrew Madorsky, and Sean Hayes.
Betsy Cooley, who runs the Citizens Association of Georgetown. Basim Motiwala and Greg Stillman.
Anja Frost, Victoria Schramm, Perry Rogers, Eryn Bentley, and Aleska Miniski.
Fundraiser donor Kelly Muccio. Nick Jamais (he owns Sweetgreen in DC, his parents owned the late La Caravelle in NYC), Bona Park, Tim Noonan.
All partygoers paid at least $10 per person at the entrance.
Those who crowded into the party above Lululemon – a swarm, though not quite the 800 expected – reflected all the demographics that comprise Georgetown: established residents, students from Georgetown University, young professionals, the always charitable, assorted party fiends.

There was Haitian rum, Reggae mixed in with the Kanye, much handing over of checks to buy donated items and, when the party wound down around 9 pm, a reported $11,000 was raised. Not bad for a pop up fundraiser.
Jim and Kelly Polsinelli, Michael Higgins, Marjorie Tucker-Pfeiffer. Hockley and Sarah Walsh.
Lakshmi Fernandes and Kelly Scott Polsinelli. Deirdre Cosgrove and Rebecca Cianci.
Cindy Kalery and Javi Morenes. Matt Schwartz and Marco Salcedo.
Debating which gift certificate to buy? Myra Moffett. Clare Callagy.
Contributor and salon owner Erwin Gomez with
Adrian Avila.
Volunteers who helped with the fundraiser, Miranda Livesay and
Annie Skidmore.
Zach Solomon and Francesca Johnson Dr. Tina Alster and Paul Frazer, who bought the gift certificate for a party at the private L2 club.
Sara Moffett and Erwin Gomez. Jodi Schneider and Esosa Edosomwan.
Father and son, Matthew and Richard Carney. Andrea Fischlowitz and Giana Korth.
Photographs by Carol Joynt. Carol is the host of The Q&A Cafe in Washington, D.C. Visit her at: caroljoynt.com.