Vice President Dick Cheney thinks the recent appointment of Fox News correspondent Tony Snow as White House press secretary was a smart move. "He has a lot of friends in the media and in Washington. He'll do a great job," the Veep said while sipping his second glass of red wine and sampling the crab balls at the network's 10th-anniversary party for "Fox News Sunday."
Even the upstaged guest of honor at the Wednesday night fete at Cafe Milano, Chris Wallace, the show's moderator, couldn't resist calling the event "Tony Snow's going-away party."
The crush of guests -- admitted under extremely heavy security that started a block away on either side of the restaurant -- included the hosts, media heavyweights Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes, and most of the top presidential contenders for 2008: Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, John McCain and Bill Frist. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and predecessor Newt Gingrich were sighted in the throng along with an impressive contingent of White House staff, including Joshua Bolten, Karl Rove, Karen Hughes and Allan Hubbard.
Georgette Mosbacher sidled up to CBS legend Mike Wallace, there to congratulate his son (who described himself as "58, and still known as the kid"). Also celebrating were Sens. Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, George Voinovich and Norm Coleman; former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay; Gen. Richard Myers; Brit Hume; Vernon Jordan and Terry McAuliffe (two of the rare Democrats there); author Naomi Wolf; Ken Duberstein; Haley Barbour; Jack Valenti; Ted Olson; and Andrea Mitchell.
"The turnout is unbelievable, beyond my wildest imagination," an ebullient Chris Wallace said of the impressive number of "Fox News Sunday" guests who showed up at the party. Better yet: being praised publicly by Mr. Murdoch, the boss of bosses, as "tough, smart and fair."
Guests dined on lamb chops, roast beef and creamy risotto, and the bar was packed three-deep. Getting from one end of the room to the other could qualify as an extreme sport. The candlelit restaurant was emptied of tables and filled instead with comfy sofas and armchairs. People smoked, drank and sometimes had to shout above the din of nattering nabobs.
A few rare and magic moments occurred (all recorded by photographers, of course) as left and right made nice for once. Mr. Jordan was seen bearhugging former Sen. Alan Simpson in one corner just before Mrs. Clinton, wearing a dark pantsuit and vintage brooch, said howdy-do to conservative talk-show host Bill O'Reilly "I'd never met him before," she said as fans circled in a mass embrace.
As the man of the hour, Mr. Snow also stood out in the swirl of celebrities. Tall and chisled, he said he was looking forward to his new gig. Asked to name the most important thing about being a presidential spokesman, he replied, "Don't lie."
One key White House player didn't miss a beat when asked what advice she had for the administration's new lightening rod. "Keep a good sense of humor," Mrs. Hughes said with a laugh. "He's going to need it."
-- Stephanie Mansfield and Kevin Chaffee