The Pre-Dinner: Shouts and Satire

Corrected version

I am at the Washington Hilton, which is a sprawling hotel complex suddenly made tiny by an onslaught of thousands of media, political and entertainment types. Most major news organizations host pre-dinner parties in various banquet and hotel rooms, made all the more cramped as cameras try to capture anyone who is anyone. At the Newsweek party, guests swarmed former Secretary of State Colin Powell with their camera cell phones. The difference between this year and years past? A new administration, injecting a new level of energy if not a greater crush of people. “There seems to be a lot of ‘gets’ here,” Powell told me, referring to news organizations’ ability to secure guests like George Lucas (Fortune), Warren Buffett (MSNBC) and Capt. Sully Sullenberger. Then Powell said with a smile, “This is one of the most self indulgent evenings of the year.” As much of a crush as the party rooms were — humidity made it a bit claustrophbic — there was drama elsewhere in the hotel. When former Secretary of Defense came through a sparsely populated entrance, he came face to face with a protester, who shouted in his face, “War criminal! Arrest this man! I cannot believe a war criminal was invited to this event.” Rumsfeld just stood and grinned, before security men escorted the woman out. I asked him how he dealt with such outbursts, and he threw up his hands and said, “They are out front demonstrating about animals. It is life in America.” ————————– Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld