All I can say is, thank God none of the legendary Georgetown hostesses and grande dames is left in Washington to see this day.
The city may just as well roll up the red carpet and shut its doors after what we have just learned.
I'm talking about the woman who was arrested, handcuffed and jailed for driving under the influence after having had one glass of wine with dinner. She tested at .03, but that was enough for the police to take her in.
When I was covering parties in Georgetown, at the White House and on Embassy Row in the '70s, five-course dinners were de rigueur. There would be martinis and Dubonnet at cocktail time. Dinner would begin with terrapin soup and sherry, then move on to the turbot and a sincere Sancerre. Next would come the beef Wellington, accompanied by a decent Mouton Rothschild. We would stay with the red wine through the salad and cheese course, and naturally crepes suzette would require Dom Perignon. After dinner, when the gentlemen retired to the library and the ladies upstairs with the hostess, the postprandial liqueurs would be served.
And yes, except for the very very high-ups who had chauffeurs, everybody drove home.
What are we to do now? Who knew that in the District, according to the ironically named arresting officer Dennis Fair, "we have zero tolerance. . . . Anything above .01, we can arrest."
Do the police understand that in Washington, business is conducted after hours? That parties here are like a marketplace where contacts are made, deals are proposed, leaks sprung, information exchanged, diplomacy conducted?
President Bush doesn't drink. However, that doesn't mean that nobody else in Washington does. The number of courses may have dropped from five to three, but the booze is still flowing. White wine with the first course, red with the main, champagne with dessert.
I would suggest that if District officials are serious about this law, they should start charging fines for drinking violations. All they have to do is place officers outside the White House after every state dinner and the embassies after official dinners. Also the State Department and the Capitol, the Kennedy Center and other charity venues. The police could just nail people when they come out, unable to stand on one foot for 30 seconds.
The fines could pay for schools, health care, garbage pickup, snow removal and even big raises for the most diligent police officers.
Then we could move the capital to Philadelphia. Because it would be over in Washington. Who's going to drive to some horrible official party knowing that they can't have a drink? And if they do they're likely to end up in the slammer. How do you think people get through these parties anyway? It's not by drinking Diet Coke.
I think the only thing to do is to bid farewell to the Washington Party and raise a glass to the good old days.
Just don't try to drive home.