- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Too darn hot

Sometimes an air-conditioning system is no match for the combined forces of body heat and a hot June day in the District.

Such was the case at Thursday night’s bash at the British Embassy to celebrate the release of “Renegade: The Making of a President,” the new book by Newsweek’s senior White House correspondent and MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe.

The soiree - hosted by NBC’s David Gregory and his wife, Beth Wilkinson, and British Ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald - was awash with famous faces. Among those spotted: Maureen Dowd, Christopher Hitchens, Carol Blue and Jonathan Capehart.

The air conditioner worked mightily but, alas, was no match for the humid air that engulfed the guests. Even those who never break a sweat during heated on-air political debates could be seen dabbing their brows. Fortunately, there were few cameras there to capture the moment.

Passion for fashion

The lady spies have learned that Congress is about to get the first-ever Congressional Textile and Fashion Business Caucus - and we hear Rep. John Conyers, Michigan Democrat, will be chairman.

Is this an attempt to put more red carpets in the Capitol? Or give style makeovers to sometimes dowdy Hill staffers?

Nope. This is strictly business, people.

According to Christine Brooks-Cropper, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce, who promoted the idea for the caucus, its goals include securing revenue for a “national fashion business investment fund.” The caucus also will create legislation to establish “fashion enterprise zones” to bolster job training and economic development in emerging fashion hubs, such as the nation’s capital.

Ms. Brooks-Cropper says she has been trying to get a caucus off the ground for months, but until recently, members and their aides have been skeptical.

“When they hear the word ‘fashion,’ they think glam and style, but what we are trying to make them see are trade issues, economics, work force, and jobs,” Ms. Brooks-Cropper says while explaining misconceptions about the fashion industry - which she says generates some $350 billion annually.

Other potential members of the fashion caucus include Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut Democrat, Rep. Diane Watson, California Democrat, and Rep. Kendrick B. Meek, Florida Democrat.

Long-term objectives of the caucus will be to “designate a Smithsonian museum for American fashion and facilitate an American designer gala,” according to Ms. Brooks-Cropper.

French connection

On the subject of caucuses, we noticed that the Congressional French Caucus came out in full force to support the Frenchiest of American cities, New Orleans, at this year’s Duke Ellington Jazz Festival. The 10-day event ended with a Monday night concert featuring the musical Marsalis family and Harry Connick Jr. at the Kennedy Center. The festival paid tribute to the Big Easy, the cradle of jazz.

At a private reception for the festival at the residence of French Ambassador Pierre Vimont, Francophile politicians explained that you don’t have to be French, speak French or even look French to be a member of the House’s tres-chic French caucus.

Rep. Steve Cohen, Tennessee Democrat, says he’s a member to celebrate “the American-French relationship.” Meanwhile, his colleague Rep. Anh Cao, Louisiana Republican, tells us he looks to France “to help us coordinate terrorism prevention around the world and how they can assist us economically.”

Rep. Bob Inglis, South Carolina Republican, says he owes the French his support as they employ his constituents at the Michelin Tire headquarters in his district in Greenville. And Rep. John Boozman, Arkansas Republican, said there aren’t too many French companies or restaurants in the Ozarks state but reminded us that Fayetteville, Ark., was named after the Marquis de Lafayette, the legendary French general in the American Revolution.

Fittingly, a large portrait of Lafayette hangs in the ambassador’s residence. We wonder if he heard us whispering about him?

• To contact Stephanie Green and Elizabeth Glover, e-mail [email protected] ingtontimes.com.

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