- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 2, 2006

It’s not the Mp3, it’s the DCp3: press, politicians and policy pooh-bahs.

No other mix works quite so well in the nation’s capital. Toss in the potables: a sushi bar, turkey and sirloin carving stations, baby lamb chops, top-shelf open bar, and they’ll all come.

Come they did Tuesday night to the annual reception honoring the Board of Overseers of the Hoover Institution, a rightward think tank located on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, Calif.

What other weeknight party at the Willard InterContinental — only a birdshot blast from the White House — could pull William F. Buckley Jr., a multitude of columnists (Robert Novak, Christopher Hitchens, Bruce Bartlett), editors (American Spectator’s Emmett Tyrrell, The Washington Times’ Wesley Pruden and Fran Coombs), policy-makers (the National Security Council’s Elliott Abrams), Cabinet members (Interior Secretary Gale Norton), famous faces from administrations past (former FBI and CIA Director William H. Webster, former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft) plus hundreds of supporters and friends.

“We have a great reputation … and we’re fortunate to usually get some celebrities,” said Hoover Institution Director John Raisian, who described the think tank as “an island” in blue-state California.

Earlier this week, Hoover Institution Chairman Peter Bedford and a small delegation met with President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. “The visit with [the president] was supposed to last 15 minutes,” Mr. Raisian noted, “and he stayed for almost an hour.”

Snatches of overheard party chat (“The New York Times reviewed my last book …”; “So I said to Karl …”; “This Dubai thing …”) revealed the insider nature of the guest list as much as the names.

One especially hot topic was Mr. Buckley’s contention that the Iraq war is “a failure,” although at least one policy-maker, Sen. John Cornyn, took exception.

“I don’t agree,” the Texas Republican said. “I think we’re making real progress.” Later, Mr. Cornyn said he definitely was unhappy about Mr. Buckley’s comment. “Anything that undermines America’s resolve is a bad thing. When you get respected opinion leaders saying that, it doesn’t help.”

Mr. Buckley was holding court in the foyer, where we asked if he is still better known than as author Christopher Buckley’s (“Thank You for Smoking”) father. “Among the cognoscenti,” he replied, peering down like an eagle, jaw firmly locked.

In another corner, onetime Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork said he hadn’t had time to watch the confirmation hearings for Justice Samuel A. Alito and had refused to comment about them on television.

Changing tactics, we asked about the ports controversy. “Well, I guess he could be the swing vote,” Mr. Bork replied. “No, the port situation,” his wife interjected.

“I thought you said ‘court.’ Well, why do we want to talk about that?”

So, what would he like to talk about? “Food,” he said, leaving to stake out the enchilada table.

Stephanie Mansfield

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