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Posted at 6:00 PM ET, 01/30/2011

Alfalfa Club draws Bushes but no Obama to annual dinner, as POTUS skips black-tie affair for Axelrod farewell

By The Reliable Source

Warner, Alexander and Bush (seen here in file photos from earlier events) were among the luminaries at the annual Alfalfa Club dinner. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post; Mark Humphrey/AP; Lawrence Jackson/AP)

That consummate insiders' insider gathering, the Alfalfa Club, held its annual off-the-record (but always leaky) black-tie dinner at the Capital Hilton on Saturday -- Cal Ripken, Bob Johnson and Dan Snyder rubbing elbows with the likes of Colin Powell, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Alan Greenspan and Madeleine Albright. And this year an unusually large coterie of Bushes -- 41 and 43, his first dinner since leaving Washington, joined by siblings Doro, Jeb and Marvin. Joked the club's president, Sen. Mark Warner, to the elder ex-prez and Barbara Bush: "Couldn't find a sitter?"

Warner followed with the obligatory John Boehner joke (handing him a box of Kleenex), Chilean miner joke ("What in the hell is this country coming to when we have to outsource our inspirational moments?") and Rahm Emanuel joke. (Residency problems? "President Obama told him, 'Maybe if you showed them your birth certificate.' ") Honoree of the night: Sen. Lamar Alexander, who accepted the club's annual gag nomination for president by playing a couple of tunes on the piano. And Bill Daley, standing in for Obama with another Rahm riff: finally, a chief of staff who can address a crowd without a seven-second delay, haha.


Obama and Axelrod, back in the early days (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune)

Ah, yes -- the stand-in. The dinner has lost some luster since Obama stopped going. This year his excuse was yet another elite party: a farewell for David Axelrod, at the Dupont Circle pad of former top staffer Linda Douglass, filled with top admin officials, senior White House folks and a smattering of big-deal journalists. There Obama stunned guests* by lingering for nearly two hours and mingling easily. With a glass of champagne, he toasted his adviser for taking a chance on him back in '04. (On first meeting, POTUS recalled, a skeptical Ax noted, "Your name is Barack Obama, you just lost a House race, and you don't have any downstate support.") Nonsense, said an emotional Axelrod when it was his turn to talk: It was love at first sight.


Last year's dinner: Politicians joke at Alfalfa Club: Some oldies, some goodies, Feb. 1, 2010



* You want names? Arne Duncan; Steve Chu; Tim Geithner; Julianna Smoot; Bill Burton; Jay Carney; Carol Browner; Axelrod's assistant Eric Lesser, who presented his boss with an autographed picture of Arnold Palmer (because apparently Axelrod drank Arnold Palmers all day instead of coffee); Jon Favreau; Samantha Power and Cass Sunstein; Stephanie Cutter; Reggie Love; Dan Pfeiffer; David Plouffe; Maureen Dowd; E.J. Dionne; Ed Henry; Gwen Ifill; Judy Woodruff; many, many others...

Updated 10 p.m.

By The Reliable Source  | January 30, 2011; 6:00 PM ET
Categories:  44: Obama's Washington, Parties, Politics  
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Comments

Interesting piece of social news in DC.

Posted by: EarlC | January 30, 2011 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Elitism run amok.

Posted by: clarkesq | January 31, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm....I guess Republicans are part of the "elite". And, they never seem to know that.

Posted by: jckdoors | January 31, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

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