The grilled shrimp appetizer had just arrived at the 128th annual press-pols Gridiron dinner Saturday night when NAACP President Benjamin Jealous fell into conversation with a fellow white-tied dinner guest about the Supreme Court’s recent argument over the Voting Rights Act.
The distinguished-looking gentleman told Jealous he thought the NAACP Legal Defense Fund lawyer, Debo P. Adegbile, had done a fine job arguing that the law needed to be continued.
Sure, but what happened to the solicitor general? Jealous wondered aloud, he was just awful.
Well, I am the solicitor general, Donald Verrilli Jr. replied.
An apparently mortified Jealous apologized profusely and excused himself from the table for what seemed to folks at the table an awfully long time, returning just about when the famous Gridiron petits fours arrived with coffee.
Jealous resumed apologizing on his return.
We heard this story from two separate witnesses who overheard every word of the only-in-Washington conversation. Jealous, however, doesn’t remember it that way. “It didn’t happen,” an NAACP spokesman tells the Loop.
Still, there’s a moral to the story: In Washington, always know to whom you’re speaking. (And who’s within earshot.)