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Time Warner's Parsons: No Designs on D.C.

Powell, Parsons, Jordan. (Photo by Priscilla Clarke)

It's good to be a pal of Barack Obama these days -- except, of course, for all those new BFFs who think you've got the White House on speed-dial.

"I only have one BFF -- my wife," said Richard Parsons, chairman of Time Warner and a member of Obama's economic advisory team. "I have a number of friends who have hit me up for inaugural tickets, that's for sure."

The lifelong Republican believed since the Iowa caucuses that Obama would win, but said the election left many of his colleagues -- especially African Americans -- in shock: "They really, honestly didn't think it could happen. That's when I realized something seismic had happened."

Parsons came to D.C. on Saturday to make a little history of his own: an interview for the HistoryMakers project, which has compiled the largest collection of African American biographies in the world. The look at his life and career, conducted by Soledad O'Brien, was taped for broadcast on PBS. In the standing-room-only audience at George Washington University: Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, BET's Debra Lee -- all quite pleased about the election results.

At a reception before the taping, the word "excited" popped up a lot: Powell noted that there are a lot of delighted people in this country right now. Not just this country, countered Jordan: "I was just in London, and Brits were saying, 'We won. We won.' " Washington is going to be an interesting town again, offered Lee: "It's been a little dead for the last eight years."

"There is this unbridled optimism," said emcee Juan Williams. "It's as if there's been a coup and everyone is dancing, like at the end of 'The Wizard of Oz'." He's calling it "national political irrational exuberance."

Parsons is keeping his exuberance in check. He said he'll "most likely" come down for the inauguration, but not move to work for the administration. "Highly unlikely," he said with a grin. "I'm a New Yorker."

By The Reliable Source  |  November 17, 2008; 1:04 AM ET
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