The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


John McCain

Georgetown Cocktail Parties, Past and Present

By Libby Copeland
Defending his veep pick Sarah Palin Wednesday, Sen. John McCain twice made withering references to the sort of critics who hang out at "Georgetown cocktail parties."

But Georgetown cocktail parties ain't what they used to be.

"I don't want to burst anybody's bubble," said Carol Joynt, who runs the weekly "Q&A Café" television show at her Georgetown restaurant, Nathan's. "If they think we're all standing around with cigarette holders and bouffant hairdos talking down to the middle class -- that era went away in the last century."

"That was the Kennedy era," Democratic fundraiser Esther Coopersmith said. "He's showing his age."

Georgetown fixture Frida Burling, 93, reminisced a bit about those long-lost parties.

"Back in the old days, they were very elegant and people had better food and better service and better style," Burling said. Though, she added, people used to drink too much.
But we stray. Back to the central conceit of McCain's phrase. On NPR in the morning, he sought to minimize the growing chorus of Palin criticisms by pointing out how past candidates have been underestimated, presumably by out-of-touch elitists.

"I remember, in all due respect, that some people, when Ronald Reagan came out of California, said he was totally unqualified," McCain said. "I remember an obscure governor of the state of Arkansas -- that people said he was totally unqualified. This kind of thing goes on, usually in Georgetown cocktail parties."

During an interview with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register, the Arizona senator was more pointed.

"If there's a Georgetown cocktail party person, who quote, calls himself a 'conservative,' and doesn't like her, good luck," he said, waving his hand as if he was saying goodbye to such a person (and not necessarily wishing that person the best of luck.)

It wasn't clear whether McCain was referring to any one person when he made this remark. A number of Republicans have criticized the Alaska governor recently, including National Review editor Rich Lowry, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, American Enterprise Institute's David Frum and columnist Kathleen Parker. Parker even called on Palin to take herself off the ticket. So, we had to ask: Has she been to any Georgetown cocktail parties?

"I haven't gotten an invitation yet, but I am available," said Parker, who splits her time between Georgetown and tiny Camden, S.C. She said most of her big-city socializing consists of sidewalk chats, occasionally involving dogs.

For what it's worth, our colleague Sally Quinn said that McCain himself hasn't been a stranger on the circuit.

"I've sat next to him many times at dinner parties in Georgetown," Quinn said. "He's an absolutely delightful dinner partner."

Posted at 8:12 PM ET on Oct 1, 2008  | Category:  John McCain
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Posted by: JJames081 | October 2, 2008 4:11 PM

What a lot of baloney! -- See node/15528, from just this summer.

Posted by: Sezyou | October 2, 2008 11:32 AM

I feel certain, along with the media left,
that if palin and mccain assume the presidency, the seven plagues will begin,
toads raining from the sky, waters turning to blood, culminating with the resurection of jesus christ as sandra bernhard;
involved with a terrible black gang bang,
for our lord and savoir Sandra.
Her moans of ecstacy ' hey boys, i'm a lesbian '

Posted by: USA3 | October 2, 2008 11:18 AM

Kathleen4: Even a PTA involves politics. My experience on the BoD of a Homeowners' Association included a wide range - but when McCain returned with Palin to face Couric again, he looked like a parent defending his failing student to her teacher - at a PTA meeting!

Posted by: fmcf | October 2, 2008 9:12 AM

McCain's tantrums are getting ridiculous - he seems unhinged with all his bluster and exaggeration. You can't take this man as a serious candidate for President. He is behaving like an utter fool.

We need steadiness to reestablish the credibility of the Presidency both at home and abroad. Obama is steady, smart, organized, and will make a wonderful President.

Posted by: johnsonc2 | October 2, 2008 1:14 AM

By the way, in this interview with the Des Moines Register, he cited her work on the local PTA as part of her "political" experience. I'm not making this up. Go look at the video.

I recognize that PTA boards can be petty and seem political, but it is not acceptable for a presidential candidate to cite this as part of his basis of selecting a VP candidate.

Posted by: Kathleen4 | October 1, 2008 11:48 PM

On an NPR interview today, McCain said that he has consulted Palin “many times” on foreign policy issues. He then said that he would “never listen” to the advice of Obama and Biden on foreign policy. Obama and Biden are both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden is the Chairman.

So he would “never listen” to the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but he would rely on the advice of a small state governor with less than 20 months of experience who can’t cite a newspaper that she reads regularly?

If that truly is the case, he is just as unqualified to be president as Palin.

He is embarassing himself, and insulting us all at the same time.

Posted by: Kathleen4 | October 1, 2008 11:45 PM

It's the end of the GOP as we know it ...and I feel fine.

"Our economy is structurally sound for the long term"
*George W Bush - Feb 11, 2008*

"The American people can remain confident in the soundness and the resilience of our financial system"
*Henry Paulson - Sept 15, 2008*

"The fundamentals of our economy are strong"
*John McCain - Sept 15, 2008*

"The economy is fundamentally sound"
*Herbert Hoover - October, 1931*

Posted by: DrainYou | October 1, 2008 11:19 PM

We foreign observers of this race are once again appalled and incredulous that any responsible person could even contemplate offering such high office to a person whose ignorance about the world outside USA is matched only by her obvious indifference to it. And now here's evidence the limits of her focus barely reaches beyond Alaska. Wake up America - your international credibility amongst your allies has never been so low

Posted by: bystander5 | October 1, 2008 10:40 PM

Just bizarre. He seemed ready to implode while talking to the folk on the editorial board. That is one angry old white guy.

Posted by: Annandale | October 1, 2008 9:53 PM

I'm not a Republican Conservative. But George Will is. During the run-up to the conventions Will constantly lauded McCain over Obama. Will still has serious misgivings about an Obama Presidency. But of late, what has given him pause is VP nominee Sarah Palin. Either she is trying to lull Joe Biden into a sense of thinking that the debate will be Easy, because Palin has convinced everybody that she is DOORKNOB DUMB, or that she is ACTUALLY Doorknob Dumb. With all the lies that McCain has been spouting in his ads, and add to this a reckless choice for Vice President, George Will has reason for pause. He thought before Sarah Palin was picked that McCain could pull out the election. Will thought JUST AFTER the Sarah Palin speech that McCain was going to win the election. One month later, the panic button has been pushed, and conservatives are now quite nervous about their chances of regaining the White House.

A Fool is thought of as Wise until he opens his mouth. What happened to Pawlenty? I'm under the impression that the Republican Party eats their own young.

Posted by: jrev7620042000 | October 1, 2008 9:33 PM

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