- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 14, 2006

It wasn’t too long ago that international political affairs consultant Roy Pfautch would host a lavish holiday party for about 700 of his closest friends with a mystery VIP Santa chosen from among the fabled list (among them Marilyn Quayle, Ken Duberstein and the late Malcolm Baldrige). The party was bipartisan in name back in the Reagan and Bush I eras, but generally Republican in spirit.

Flash forward to Tuesday at the Willard InterContinental Hotel, and the irrepressible Mr. Pfautch was hosting another, much smaller but still very spirited gathering. In a more serious vein, the entertaining Santa had been replaced by a talented young opera singer named Greg Warren. “Three songs — all things I like,” Mr. Pfautch said by way of an introduction. (One of them was “America the Beautiful.”)

The host, wearing a patriotic bipartisan red shirt and blue tie, urged all present to sign personal well-wishing notes to accompany gift packages to military personnel serving in Iraq.

“We don’t have our elves (i.e., carol-warbling grandes dames) this year,” Mr. Pfautch confessed at the start of a sumptuous shrimp, lobster and filet mignon dinner that ended with sparklers on all the desserts. “I just wanted to see friends.”

Gentlemen whose birthdates came closest to the March 11 birthday of his late mother were invited to heigh-ho out the door with the tall, festive evergreen tree centerpieces (among them Justice Antonin Scalia and former Sen. Christopher Bond). Ladies exited with gasps of surprise and appreciation at being offered two dozen gorgeously tied lemony white roses — a gesture that set a new standard in what guests at any social function can expect by way of party favors.

While chatting away with friends from near and far — including many from his hometown of St. Louis — Mr. Pfautch managed close control of proceedings but was unable to account for the absence of several naughty reconfirmed VIPs who had left empty chairs at their tables. Guess there’ll be no earmarks from Santa for Sen. Conrad Burns and Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan this year.

Even without them, the guests were predictably eclectic, given the host’s range of interests and activities. They included Polish Ambassador Janusz Reiter; Reps. Michael Oxley and Jo Ann Emerson; consultants Ed Rollins, Charles Black and Bill Timmons; Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot; former Secretary of Health and Human Services Margaret Heckler; former Sens. William Brock III and Robert Kasten; former Secretary of the Army Togo D. West Jr.; former CIA and FBI Director William H. Webster; and other merrymaking folk, including Mary Ann Fish, Jayne Ikard, Ina Ginsburg, Finlay and Willee Lewis, Sally Atwater, John Damgard, Britty Cudlip, Vicki Bagley, Fred and Marlene Malek and Bill and Dorothy McSweeny.

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