- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 29, 2006

By Stephanie Mansfield


WHO: Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard and preppily bespectacled co-host of Fox News Channel’s “The Beltway Boys.”

WHAT: A party Thursday night celebrating “Rebel-in-Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush,” hot off the press from Crown Forum publishers.

WHERE: The sprawling Northwest manse of financial guru and former Jack Kemp Chief-of-Staff David Smick and his wife, Vickie.

THE SCENE: Forget warm Almaden and cubes of Velveeta, this was definitely not your ordinary book party. It was a tizzy, fizzy, free valet parking reunion of the right featuring Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and wife, Joyce, White House senior adviser Karl Rove, White House political director Dan Bartlett, Peking duck, crab cakes, Chivas Regal and leggy blonde White House political director Sara Taylor. No matter that Vice President Dick Cheney was a no-show, witty New York Times columnist John Tierney was spotted chatting with Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol while GOP stalwarts Ed Rogers, David Keene and R. Emmett Tyrrell snagged little salami sandwiches.

TOPICS DU SOIR: The first major issue was how skinny Mr. Rove is looking. We asked if there was a special Pennsylvania Avenue diet book in the works. “No,” he laughed, “I just look incredibly fat on television.” Next up was the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court. “He’s Italian[-American] and he’s a nerd,” nerdy Italian-American Republican consultant Frank Donatelli noted, “So there’s hope for us.” What about tomorrow’s State of the Union address? “It never means a lot,” said Fox News Channel’s Brit Hume. “But we have to cover it.” Finally, The Book: “Of course I’ve read it,” affirmed Mr. Rumsfeld, after chatting with the author, who said it was controversial because liberals — and some conservatives — think he is too soft on the president. (Come to think of it, the last time we saw him was at the White House state dinner for the Indian prime minister, one of the very few journalists walking past the velvet rope.)

At least the party was uncontroversial — maybe because everyone loves Mr. Barnes and his wife, Barbara.

THE LAST WORD: Asked how he and his wife were included in this distinctively political evening, businessman , replied, “I know Fred from our Bible study group. He’s a believer.

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