- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Inaugural party planners had to scramble like mad to make up for the critical five weeks they lost while the presidential election remained undecided. Once George W. Bush was declared the winner, the rush was on especially for Republicans to quickly coordinate plans for the festivities that traditionally celebrate this uniquely American ritual.

From all reports, the Presidential Inaugural Committee has done an outstanding job organizing all of the official activities scheduled this week, including the swearing-in ceremony and parade; events for authors, minorities, veterans and younger Americans; and, of course, nine massive inaugural balls at various locations around town.

Top-notch private parties, of course, are very much a part of the scene as well, even though many were scheduled so late that invitations had to be sent electronically rather than by mail in the usual hand-addressed envelopes. Despite the late start, plenty of "by invitation only" soirees will be held where the capital's permanent establishment (political figures from past administrations, business leaders, the cultural and cave-dweller elite) should be able to meet the new administration's movers and shakers in more exclusive surroundings.

Here's a list of some of them:


"An American Celebration," featuring a performance by legendary jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, kicks off inaugural week at a cocktail buffet hosted by National Journal Group Chairman David Bradley and President John Fox Sullivan at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The duo publishes the National Journal, the Atlantic Monthly, the Hotline and the Almanac of American Politics, so expect to see half the journalists in town sidling up to senators and members of the House, outgoing and incoming Cabinet members and numerous top dogs from both the Gore and Bush campaigns. (Many also plan on stopping by a bipartisan pre-party hosted by the Hotline and the Ketchum public relations firm at West 24, James Carville and Mary Matalin's hot new West End eaterie.)

Partying continues into the night at trendy Sesto Senso restaurant, where Republican operatives Bob Brooks, Alex Castellanos, Barbara Comstock and Tim Griffin are throwing a "down home" Southern-style "Grits and Governing Party" for pals from the press, the Republican National Committee and the Bush-Cheney staff.


After stopping by lawyer C. Boyden Gray's Georgetown residence for a reception honoring the Senate Republican Class of 2001, Grand Old Partygoers may have trouble prioritizing the rest of the evening's events.

Inaugural mega-donors and much of the Republican hierarchy will savor fine wines, gourmet food and best of all the sweet sense of victory at elegant "Candlelight Dinners" taking place at Union Station, the National Building Museum and the Washington Hilton.

Friends of Dubya won't want to miss the gala honoring the president-elect at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Hosts are Mr. Bush's sister, Dorothy "Doro" Bush Koch, and the Maryland Republican Party.

General Motors' Kennedy Center bash is another hot ticket, and not just because President and CEO G. Richard Wagoner Jr.'s cocktail party happens to be honoring incoming White House chief of staff and man-to-know Andrew H. Card Jr. The Roof Terrace Restaurant site also is one of the best places in town to view that evening's special inaugural fireworks display.

The same night President Clinton delivers his farewell address to the nation, conservatives are gathering at the Washington Monarch Hotel to celebrate the "death" of his administration with a mock funeral procession and eulogies by comedian Jackie Mason and humor writer Christopher Buckley. The event benefits "Master of Condolences" L. Brent Bozell III's Media Research Center and is completely sold out.


NBC News network brass, anchorman Tom Brokaw and Washington bureau chief Tim Russert will welcome VIPs from politics and the press to a brunch at the Willard Inter-Continental Hotel. The same afternoon at a private location in Georgetown, ambassadorial spouses and other well-connected ladies are invited to Grega Daly and Robin Parsky's lunch. (Laura Bush may drop by.)

In late afternoon, Qorvis Communications, National Media and the Patton Boggs law firm get things started with a pre-inaugural cocktail party at the St. Regis Hotel. A bit later, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, the Baker Botts firm (headed by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III) has invited guests to a reception honoring former President George Bush and his wife, Barbara. The entire Bush clan should be there.

Meanwhile, Republican Team 100 members, who fueled the Bush campaign with massive amounts of cash, will be dining at the National Air and Space Museum. Just opposite, at the National Museum of American History, Rep. David Dreier has invited friends and supporters to a California inaugural reception and a special after-hours peek at the museum's splendid new "American Presidency" exhibition.

Many of the nation's Republican governors are planning to dine at the Kalorama home of lobbyist Wayne Berman. The $50,000-per-couple get-together benefits the Republican Governors Association.

Vice President-elect Richard B. Cheney will be the man to meet at the Wyoming State Society's reception at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Of course, everyone is expecting his running mate, the president-elect, to turn up at the much-heralded "Black-Tie and Boots Gala" at the Marriott Wardman Park. With more than 9,000 guests expected for music, dancing and Tex-Mex cuisine (and 3,000 more on the waiting list), the Texas State Society's hoedown is the evening's hot ticket. Organizer Penne Percy Korth promises "something for everyone," including "Bevo," the longhorn steer and beloved University of Texas mascot, being flown in to entertain the crowd along with singers Tanya Tucker, Lisa Hartman, Clint Black and Lyle Lovett. About 800 fat-cat sponsors will arrive early to dine on special Texas filet in more intimate surroundings. Price to avoid the crush: $10,000 to $50,000 per table, and it probably will be worth it.

The most chichi gathering of the night most likely will be the bipartisan bash Buffy and Bill Cafritz, former Miss America Phyllis George and Republican fund-raiser and Bush family friend Nancy Brinker are hosting at the Jockey Club. It starts at 9:30 p.m. and no doubt will last until the wee hours, thereby allowing folks to stop by for a nightcap on their way home from all the other parties. Definitely A-list, with all the usual Washington suspects and lots of boldfaced names from New York, Los Angeles, Texas and Palm Beach.


Librarian of Congress James Billington has invited members of Congress and their families to enjoy a warm breakfast at the library's Jefferson Building before the inaugural ceremonies.

Over at the National Gallery of Art, director Earl A. "Rusty" Powell III is doing the same for his major supporters, although many should stay on to view the swearing-in and parade from lofty vantage points in the gallery's East Wing.

Those fortunate enough to receive an invitation from Canadian Ambassador Michael Kergin get to watch the parade from his embassy's roof, though Rigg's Bank Chairman Joseph Allbritton might disagree with those who say it's the best spot in town for doing so. His afternoon event for private banking and other high-balance customers promises a magnificent view as the parade makes its final turn up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. Ditto for the rival Bank of America, which is throwing its own party just across the way at its headquarters on 15th Street NW.

Many of the capital's top law firms also plan to capitalize on advantageous Pennsylvania Avenue addresses by hosting parade-watching parties for top clients, associates and their families. Among them: Covington & Burling; Fulbright & Jaworski; Hale and Dorr; Baker & Hostetler; Squire, Sanders & Dempsey; and Vinson & Elkins. Corporate and other groups snagging primo-view suites at the strategically located Willard Hotel include Occidental Petroleum Corp., Pfizer, Ford Motor Co., Enron, the Christian Coalition and Americans for a Republican Majority.

The American Film Institute's buffet luncheon honoring female members of Congress at Morton's of Chicago could be just the right spot for keeping warm while watching the day's proceedings on TV.

There are plenty of alternative revels of note for those who wouldn't dream of going to the inaugural balls Saturday night. Among them:

• Ford Motor Co.'s reception at the Phillips Collection, hosted by Chairman William Clay Ford and President Jack Nasser.

• The National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training's gathering at the Folger Shakespeare Library. (Presidential brother Neil M. Bush is likely to attend.)

• The Freedom Forum's private reception honoring "beleaguered press, past and present," at the Newseum in Arlington.

• A private dinner hosted by the Marriott family at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

• The Committee on Western Civilization's party at the Embassy of Uzbekistan, sponsored by conservative stalwarts including Richard Allen, Grover Norquist and Morton Blackwell.

• A "Clean Fields Environmental Ball," sponsored by various environmental activist groups at Sequoia Restaurant at Washington Harbour.

The last party of the night well may be one of the most glamorous: the Creative Coalition's "First Party: Bi-Partisan Celebrity Inaugural Event," hosted at the National Museum of Women in the Arts by Arianna Huffington, Billy Baldwin, Ron Reagan, Joe Piscopo, Bo Derek and other glitzy types who supposedly will share the spotlight with the event's congressional sponsors, Sens. Arlen Specter and John B. Breaux and Reps. Mary Bono and Mark Foley. Expect cocktails and finger foods, a performance by Max Weinberg from Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and plenty of post-inaugural buzz to keep things lively until the event shuts down sometime the following morning.


Those who are still able and willing to sally forth on the morning after have a number of top-drawer brunches to consider:

• Peter Jennings, Ted Koppel, Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer and other stars from the ABC News firmament will greet powerhouses of politics and the press at historic Decatur House.

• A block away, local auto magnate Mandell Ourisman and his wife, Mary, join Sen. Bill and Karyn Frist hosting at the Metropolitan Club.

• Friends from business, politics and the press will enjoy the hospitality of pollster Frank Luntz at his McLean home.

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