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Neocon Coffee Klatch at White House

President Bush, noted bookworm, held a private confab with leading neoconservatives in the dining room of the White House residence Wednesday afternoon, hosting British historian Andrew Roberts, author of one of the president's favorite recent books, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900.

The president's remarks at the off-the-public-schedule event were... off the record. But one participant in the room described President Bush as "very funny and very lively" and said Vice President Dick Cheney "didn't say a lot" but "looked terrific for a guy who just flew around the world."

Cheney actually took a copy of Roberts' book with him on his surprise trip this week to Afghanistan, where a suicide bomber struck all too close by while the vice president was on Bagram Air Force Base near Kabul.

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. of The American Spectator asked the Veep, "Were you carrying Roberts' book as reading material or as a shield?" Cheney laughed but assured him: reading material.

Others who attended the coffee klatch included: historian Gertrude Himmelfarb, the wife of Irving Kristol -- a founder of the neoconservative moment -- and mother of Bill Kristol; Allen Guelzo, author of the book Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation; and Irwin Stelzer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, which lists a "senior advisor" named Lewis Libby.

We're told there was no discussion, however, at the private White House meeting of the Libby trial and the possible impending verdict.

Also in the room were White House chief of staff Josh Bolton and Karl Rove, the man who needs no introduction.

Besides history and discussion of the United States' English-speaking allies, the neocons talked fleetingly about one of their favorite topics: the Clintons.

Tyrrell hawked his forthcoming book, The Clinton Crack-Up: The Boy President's Life After The White House, and Roberts joked that if Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) becomes president, then Tyrrell is welcome to come live in the basement of his home in London.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  March 1, 2007; 11:16 AM ET
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