“You know you’re a Washingtonian if you..”
Long time residents of the nation’s capital love discussing this topic. On Monday night, the better half and I participated in a classic answer to the question by geeking out on CPSAN’s coverage of a state dinner.
This one, the Obama Administration’s third, was for China’s President Hu Jintao. C-SPAN’s coverage began with the press conference for the two superpower leaders. A few softballs were thrown their way but at one point a reporter pressed China’s leader on human rights. Stiff and uncomfortable, Hu Jintao looked like he needed oxygen. Behind the other podium, President Obama, cool, calm and collected, was enjoying the greatest home field advantage in the world.
Next up was the arrival of guests. A gaggle of reporters waited in the corner of the Bookseller Room (Pay attention, there’s a quiz at the end). Such assignments rarely produce headline news, but remember a certain vain couple from Virginia’s wine country who crashed Obama’s first State Dinner? Then again, since the second one came off without incident, things seemed to be back to their normal ways with only geeks like us watching.
As we waited for the first guests to walk across the floor, a sharply-dressed White House media rep scurried over to the reporters and photojournalists. Watching this interlude, it was clear that Roxanne Roberts is the dean of celebrity reporters in Washington. As ruler of the roost, she got the front row, center spot among her colleagues and was enjoying the privileges of rank. The rep stood in front of Roberts and gave her first eye contact.
Finally, the procession began. Between the poor quality of the audio and the fact that CSPAN does not broadcast in HD, we were handicapped in trying to figure out who was who. We did say, “Who?,” several times, but we also did a pretty good job of knowing the lesser-knowns. The better half really shined, having worn the State Department’s uniform for 30 years.
It’s been said that, “Washington is Hollywood for ugly people.”
These guests looked great in their bow-ties and thousand dollar dresses, but yes, it was plain to see not all the hard-working Beltway Bandits have been working out at the gym, and what’s up with the poor posture?
Like a breath of fresh air, the non-political stars came to the rescue several times. Jackie Chan, Michelle Kwan, Yo-Yo Ma, Vera Wang, thank you for flying in. And bonus points if you recognized the devilish Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine, Thomas Friedman, Steve Ballmer, Brent Scowcroft or other middleweights.
Interrupting this procession, C-SPAN switched to their outside cameras covering the arrival of Hu Jintao. Stepping out to greet him, the First Couple looked mighty fine. The First Lady, wow, what can you say? She looked fabulous in a bright red dress that looked like it kept the seamstress very busy.
After two hours of watching, (yea, no commercials!), we threw in the towel. Picked it back up on Tuesday morning, as we read the Post’s excellent coverage that includes the guest list.
Give the list a look. If you recognize most of the Feds and the Pols, you’re a full-fledged Washingtonian. If not, keep reading “The Reliable Source” and watching C-SPAN.
Hey, maybe they’ll start calling it "C!"