Dinner With Friends


Karl Rove rapped, David Gregory boogied, Brian Williams burped the Battle Hymn of the Republic, and FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell had to park in front of the Yugoslavian Embassy and hoof it over to the Hilton.

Just another night in Washington.

Actually, it was a glitzy, funny, and fun night as Senators, Representatives, generals, cabinet officials, and ion-stained Fourth and Fifth Estaters joined for a night of camraderie before reassuming their positions as foxes and hounds.

It was kind of like that song, "Christmas in the Trenches," where opposing sides have a drink and a flare-lit soccer game before returning to the real world of warfare. In this case it was a drink or two, some good food and a few laughs at each others' expense.

Specifically, it was the annual Radio & Television Correspondents Association dinner where a couple awards are given out, the President gets chided–very little of that this yaer–and does some chiding himself in a self-deprecating monologue.

News junkies like June Lockhart would have had a field day. You couldn't move without bumping into a Lou Dobbs or Brian Williams or Bob Woodruff or Bob Schieffer or Jim Lehrer or Barbara Starr or, well, you name them and they were probably downing a piece of peppery prime rib or laughing heartily over the antics of a rapping Karl Rove.

Perhaps to avoid some of the criticism of the night's entertainment that greeted past choices like Don Imus and Stephen Colbert, RTCA went with a safe and satisfying team of improv comedians from Whose Line Is It Anyway. They recruited a game Williams for a sound effects game and Rove for a rap send-up. Williams could well have a second career in sound effects, particularly his impression of Ted Koppel as well as of a beer bottle being opened and poured.

Rove got a standing O and a big hand for agreeing to make a fool of himself, in this case a wise fool since he came off as human and even funny.

The night got a late start thanks to the President's participation, which necessitated a metal detector gauntlet that backed up the tuxedoed and evening-gowned crowd hundreds deep. It was slow going given the volume of cell phones and cameras and Blackberries and I don't know whatall that had to be disgorged for inspection.

Then there was the sight of dressed-to-the nines execs in the arms-out pose for a full-body wand inspection.

Political junkies could find a familiar face around every corner, from Senators Arlen Specter, Charles Schumer, and Patrick Leahy, to Reps. John Dingell, Henry Waxman, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, plus the veritable host of others including Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Peter Pace and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

A good time, as they say, was had by all.

By John Eggerton