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
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