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He Was a New Dealer When the New Deal Was New

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Friday, April 20, 2007

Tough town, D.C., powered by the sweat and fervor of the young idealists who throw themselves into their work before they inevitably burn out. Fellows like David Ginsburg, who finally made the decision to leave the law-firm grind this week.

Why? "I'm 95," he said.

One of the last New Dealers still working full time in Washington, Ginsburg has one of the most enviable photo walls in town -- not just signed pix of LBJ and JFK, but further back to Bernard Baruch, Louis Brandeis and other great men he worked with during the FDR administration.

After graduating from Harvard Law in 1935, the West Virginia native was supposed to start a job at a Cincinnati firm. But his old professor (and future Supreme Court justice) Felix Frankfurter called to ask: "Why don't you take a year off and come to Washington?" Ginsburg got a job at the Securities and Exchange Commission, then headed by Joe Kennedy. Within weeks, he decided that "being young and unattached," it might be worth lingering in Washington a little longer -- 72 years, as it turned out.

"It's the most exciting place in the world to work," he said.

In a career packed with history's boldface names, Ginsburg served as the first law clerk for Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and penned the Kerner Commission report on urban disorders for President Lyndon Johnson. He also founded his own law firm, Ginsburg, Feldman and Bress, which folded in 1998, before he joined Powell, Goldstein LLP. Law isn't as much fun as it used to be, he says, owing to the trend toward intense specialization: "One lawyer knows 407(c)3, and the other knows 407(c)1, and no one knows 407(c)."

After a series of sendoff parties, Ginsburg and his wife will travel to Europe. And then "I intend to continue my education," he said. "I have a limited time. I have a lot of reading to do."

Hair Today, Here Tomorrow: Sanjaya's Coming!

Jane Fonda . . . remind us who she is? Henry Kissinger, John Cusack, Sheryl Crow . . . what was it they were famous for? The most gushed-over guests at Saturday's White House Correspondents' Association Dinner (one of whom, let us not forget, is the president) will be eclipsed by the one-name sensation just added to the list:

Sanjaya.

People magazine cleverly snagged the latest "American Idol" evictee -- the weak-voiced, shaggy-maned teen sensation (with the camera-happy smile) who survived so many eliminations to become the most controversial love-him-or-hate-him contestant in the show's history. Special kudos for the lightning speed of the get: People's celebrity wranglers nailed his RSVP within hours of his boot from the show. Then again, his weekend was suddenly free.

Last year's human traffic jam at the Hilton Washington was caused by George Clooney, who was unceremoniously mobbed by guests brandishing cellphone and digital cameras and barely escaped bodily harm. No telling how many "Idol" fans will descend on the teen begging autographs "for my daughter."

All we know so far: The 17-year-old will be seated at the dinner with his mom and is expected to make the scene at Bloomberg's glitzy after-party. Still unknown: whether he'll wear the faux-hawk, the slicked-back 'do, or a Shirley Temple look. We're hoping he changes it up throughout the evening.

LOVE, ETC.

  • Engaged: Sarah Gore, youngest daughter of Al and Tipper Gore, to California businessman Bill Lee. Gore, a 28-year-old med student at the University of California at San Francisco, met Lee, 36, in Los Angeles. This is the first marriage for both; a July wedding is planned.
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