Going for the Gold in Book Sales
Thursday's book party for Mitt Romney's memoir was of Olympian proportions -- pun intended. "Turnaround" explores his Superman-style rescue (if he does say so himself) of the scandal-plagued 2002 Winter Olympics as president of the Salt Lake City organizing committee, and the crowd of 200 at Charlie Palmer's Steak House needed to be athletic just to get at the mound of 500 books fresh off the presses, arranged in a stack somewhat resembling Mount Olympus.
"I Federal Expressed a few copies over to the International Olympic Committee today," said an exuberant Romney, currently the governor of Massachusetts. "The guy in charge of the committee is a great guy, but he's got this committee of like 100 people who all speak different languages, so it's like herding calves." Much like the scene at Palmer's, we might add.
Romney sat safely behind a table at the back of the room as a throng of young and old political types (all looking very Republican in pearls and dark suits) joined the scrum for autographs. The rest of the packed-in guests sprinted, hurdled and backstroked to complimentary drinks and the elusive crab cakes.
"I was concerned because I didn't think we'd get much of a crowd, with it being August and a Thursday," said host Ron Kaufman, a Republican national committeeman. "But I think we did pretty well."
Romney will attend the Summer Games opening ceremonies in Athens on Friday. "I think it will look great on TV," he said. "But as far as people riding the metro, walking the streets, it's going to be awful."
Not exactly passing the torch, eh, Mitt?
Author Ron Kessler, Inside the Bush Circle
There may be a few (oh, about 75) books out that are critical of President Bush, but Ron Kessler certainly didn't write any. In fact, the author of "A Matter of Character: Inside the White House of George W. Bush" has become quite the presidential admirer. "It is very lonely being a Bush fan," said Kessler, only half kidding at Thursday's book party in his honor.
The investigative reporter, who voted for Al Gore in 2000, said he became intrigued by the president's role as "CEO on the war on terror." The press is essentially shut out, said Kessler, and penetrating the White House's inner circle was almost mission impossible -- "They're all very secretive, but once you get to know them, you couldn't meet better people."
The sentiment is apparently mutual. More than 100 Bush fans gathered at the Northwest Washington home of former CIA and FBI director William Webster and wife Lynda to celebrate the book's publication just three weeks before the GOP convention. Guests included Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, NBC's Andrea Mitchell, Nancy Reagan's former press secretary Sheila Tate, presidential pals Anne and Clay Johnson, former senator Paul Laxalt and wife Carol, party hosts Terry and Liz Johnson and Fred and Maria Fielding, and Kessler's wife, Pam, whom he affectionately referred to as "my Karl Rove."
In a Swing State
While most Washington politicos obsessed about swing votes, more than 100 quick-stepping souls turned their attention to Friday's weekly outdoor swing dance at Bethesda Metro Center. Dancing duos who learned to cha-cha back when everybody liked Ike enjoyed hits played by the oldies band Retrospect.
"We come to enjoy the music and to move around," said Narda Erlich, who has been strutting her stuff at the event for more than a decade.
Also enjoying the music, albeit on the sidelines, was a young couple less interested in the rumba than romance. "We're actually waiting for our movie to start, but this is really fun," said Meghan McCabe. "I mean nice fun, not making-fun-of-it fun."
With Laura Thomas