Partisan tributes to a Democrat, tried and blue

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Friday, January 8, 2010

If there was any lingering doubt about Washington philanthropist Smith Bagley's politics and passions, the crowd of Democrats at his funeral Thursday cleared that up right away.

"After all these years -- decades of friendship -- this is the first event I've attended for him," said Bill Clinton, who delivered the closing eulogy at Georgetown's Holy Trinity Catholic Church. "This man, notwithstanding the circumstances in which he was born or the wealth he generated for himself, always found a way to give more than he took."

The church was packed with family and friends: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, members of Congress, and plenty of people who benefited from Bagley's deep-pocket, behind-the-scenes generosity.

Bagley, who died Saturday at age 74, inherited a boatload of money from the R.J. Reynolds tobacco fortune, made even more from his cellphone business, then gave millions to liberal causes: campaign finance reform, lifting the Cuban embargo, D.C. voting rights, clean air and water, death penalty reform.

He converted to Catholicism after his marriage to his third wife, former ambassador to Portugal Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, but never wavered in his liberalism, said daughter Nancy Reynolds Bagley. "Democrats are for the people," he told her. "Republicans are for big business and property." Then she looked over to his casket and said: "I hope, Dad, that I can bring as much commitment, charm and passion to advancing the cause of social justice while agitating and pushing the envelope to think outside the box like you did."

The Mass lasted almost two hours, so Clinton, the last speaker, kept his remarks to six minutes.

"Can't you just hear Smith saying, 'Okay, enough. Make it short, Bill. Everyone wants to go to the Cosmos Club. Even I need a drink.' "

Orszag: Revenge of the 'unapologetically nerdy'

Peter Orszag! What is it about that guy, and how did he become the Tom Brady of D.C.?

Those who saw him with his girlfriends of 2009 -- shipping-heiress Claire Milonas, who gave birth to his child after their split; and his fiancee, ABC reporter Bianna Golodryga -- say he's an attentive, affectionate date. But even distant fans testify to the OMB director's wonky allure.

"It's the Josh Lyman effect," said Erin Hennessy, a staffer for an education association in town. "Smart is sexy, hardworking is sexy. . . . Any man packing two BlackBerrys must be all of the above."

Air America's Ana Marie Cox notes that "he is so unapologetically nerdy and informed that he transcends both geekiness and smugness."

Aminatou Sow, author of the blog Orszagasm, said it's the "buy-low, sell-high" factor. "His looks are not threatening, but you see this potential about him -- you think he'll be better than the others," she told us. Which is why many "felt blindsided" by the latest news. "Who knew geeks could be jerks, too?" Sow said. Hennessy was less put-off by the love-child reports. "Dirty sexy geek," she tweeted.

This just in

-- A Colorado judge Thursday denied Charlie Sheen's motion for celebrity justice: He must appear in person, not over the phone, at a hearing on charges that he attacked his wife. Meanwhile, Hanes has yanked its underwear ads with the sitcom star.

-- Ronald Reagan's grandson Cameron, 31, was arrested early Thursday in L.A. for allegedly obstructing cops who responded to an alarm at a family home. His dad, conservative commentator Michael Reagan, told the AP his son "panicked" after accidentally triggering the alarm.


-- Christopher Hitchens on his former friend Gore Vidal in the new issue of Vanity Fair. Hitchens says Vidal, whom he once compared to Oscar Wilde, has devolved into a graceless crackpot (they split over Vidal's 9/11 conspiracy theories) and Hitch no longer wants to be called his intellectual heir.


-- Lady Gaga, the platinum-selling pop performance artist, announcing her new gig as creative director and inventor of specialty products for Polaroid (still in business!), which will involve "developing prototypes in the vein of fashion/technology/photography innovation" . . . yeah, we don't know, either.

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