- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 15, 2009

Power powwow

How does one measure power in a city known as the world’s political powerhouse? Joules or watts won’t cut it, but how about asking the power players themselves at GQ’s 50 Most Powerful People in D.C. soiree?

Politico White House reporter Mike Allen surveyed the scene of merrymakers Tuesday at downtown’s swanky 701 restaurant and said, “Power should be measured by how much you enjoy your life, and apparently lots of people at this party are very powerful.”

(Corrected paragraph:) Mr. Allen’s boss, John Harris, Politico’s editor-in-chief, was listed at No. 43. We were surprised to see Mr. Harris, a rarity on the social scene, at the party. He seemed a little out of practice, sporting a deer-in-the-headlights look as he made his way by the bar, unlike his colleague Jim VandeHei, who appeared to be much more at ease, chatting with cocktail in hand.

(Corrected paragraph:) As for Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton, he simply replied, “I don’t” when asked how he gauges power. The ever-earnest Rep. Aaron Schock, Illinois Republican, waxed much more eloquent: “I think it’s by the lives that you affect as a member of Congress and the difference that you’re making.”

Spoken like a true politician.

We had to ask Mr. Schock, a bachelor who has been ranked among the Hill’s best-looking, if he would consider dating Meghan McCain, Sen. John McCain’s blogging daughter. Miss McCain has said publicly that she has a crush on Mr. Schock, who at 27 is the youngest member of Congress.

“I’m actually a big fan of Meghan’s,” he said, adding, “I’ve not had a chance to meet her yet, but maybe eventually when I get out to New York or she’s in D.C. we’ll grab coffee or lunch, but I’m having a lot of fun in my new job as a member of Congress, and eventually I’ll hopefully meet the right person.”

Speaking of kissing up, uber-lobbyists at the event, including Steve Elmendorf (No. 32), Tony Podesta (No. 26) and Lyndon Boozer (no number necessary) may have been disappointed that none of the White House officials on the list with whom they could have done some schmoozing, including David Axelrod (No. 6) and Valerie Jarrett (No. 16), showed up.

Rested up

Mr. Podesta will have his chance to do some social networking on his own turf soon. Over canapes, he filled us in on yet another megawatt fundraiser he and his wife, Heather, are planning, for the female Dems in the Senate. Mr. Podesta, known for his avant-garde taste in art, informed us that his prized photograph by Sam Taylor-Wood will be coming out of its two-year “resting” mode just in time for the party.

The 8-foot-tall photograph, titled “Soliloquy VII,” consumes most of the wall in Mr. Podesta’s Woodley Park parlor. It depicts a nude man lying on his back, his genitals clearly exposed.

Such a piece of art makes the handlers of politicians a little anxious, of course, especially when photographers come perilously close to getting the pol and the naked man in the same shot.

The artwork was taken down in 2007 for a fund- raiser tea for then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, but Mr. Podesta told reporters at the time that the mystery man was in hiding for conservation purposes.

Calls to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and a follow-up call to Mr. Podesta were not returned.

Party interruption

While guests at the GQ party wound things up around 9 Tuesday night, guests at fashion guru Paul Wharton’s birthday bash were kept waiting for the party to get started at the Park at Fourteenth hotel.

Of course, things can be slowed down when the hostess, Michaele Salahi, a reported cast member of the “Real Housewives of D.C.,” is saddled with a team of cameras and producers.

We saw some long faces in the downstairs bar among the scores of guests milling around, as they were prevented from advancing upstairs for the party by a burly security guard because of “filming.”

One attendee informed us that she had been invited for the birthday dinner to begin at 7 p.m. but that the main course did not begin until 10 thanks to the prolonged production shoot.

“I apologize to anyone that was not able to get in or move freely around the space. My plan was to include all of my friends in every aspect of the event,” Mr. Wharton explained on his Facebook page.

At least the mask of secrecy surrounding the “Real Housewives” shoot seems to be slipping. At the party’s check-in table, guests were asked to sign waivers, but this time we were told the cameras were, in fact, there for the Bravo show, which is expected to debut next year.

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

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