It was another gorgeous day today in Washington. The White House Correspondents Association dinner weekend has been bathed in sunshine and warm but unoppressive weather.
“I could use some whiskey,” said Senator Craig Thomas of Wyoming in the elevator up to television host John McLaughlin’s annual brunch on the Hay-Adams hotel rooftop, overlooking the White House.
“Ewww,” said his wife Susan.
It was around 11:30, but the Thomases had already enjoyed a full day of horseback riding amongst the cherry blossoms even as most of Washington was clearing the sleep from its eyes. (Some after-parties didn’t let out till near 4 a.m.)
“We do it every year but I’m still surprised by the by how beautiful it is,” she said rather philosophically. “When you stop being surprised life becomes very boring.”
A few minutes later, over in the omelet line, Chris Wallace offered up a surprising insight into his culinary tastes. “I’ll have mine with mushrooms and swiss,” said the Fox News anchor. “And make it moist, if you could.”
Spirits were high at the fete, which was heavy on media folk and politicos and light on celebrities—Morgan Fairchild and Giancarlo Esposito were the afternoon’s Hollywood ambassadors. But despite the absence of weekend “It” boy Sanjaya, everyone seemed thrilled to be out on the roof enjoying the weather, the company and a bloody mary or two.
Guests also included McLaughlin Group regulars—Clarence Page, Laurence O’Donnell, and Tony Blankley—along with Rita Cosby, Georgette Mosbacher, Matt Cooper, Eric Alterman, Ana Marie Cox, and Margaret Carlson.
“You know for a lot of people here this is the only time of year we get to see each other,” said Ms. Mosbacher, clad in an oversized suede kelly green button down and trademark huge eyeglasses. “It’s great, I love it, it’s the same every year. This year it’s particularly great just because the weather’s so nice.”
Mr. Wallace, who had opted to skip the dinner, offered up a different theory.
“This town has changed. People don’t go out and mix it up anymore,” he said. The last few years have been a stark contrast to the jolly Reagan years, he recalled.
“The president sets the tone,” said Mr. Wallace.
“This is traditionally the place we go the next morning—the morning after,” Mr. Blankly said, chuckling. “After that it’s back to normal. McLaughlin has been able to establish one of the anchors of the White House Correspondents Dinner weekend.”
But Mr. Blankley skipped the after parties this year: Was it part of the new health routine?
For avid McLaughlin viewers, Blankley’s weight drop, upwards of 80 pounds, has been a recurring joke. And dressed today in a blue sports jacket and plaid shirt, he looked remarkably thinner—”like a different person,” exclaimed one guest.
“Primarily, seats aren’t as comfortable anymore,” Mr. Blankley said. “I don’t have my little padding.”
Meanwhile, Cooper and Carlson, former colleagues at Time, were chatting together.
Regarding Mr. Cooper’s latest venture—as Portfolio’s D.C. bureau chief—he said the reception has been a little slower in the Beltway, mostly because it’s not as ubiquitous at the newsstands.
“People are starting to see it now,” he added, “and they like it!”
Mr. McLaughlin was hard to pin down, typically engulfed in conversation with a glasses wearing, bow-tie clad man. (Invite did say, “Garden Attire”).
“Ahh, The Observer,” he exclaimed, before returning to his conversation. “I like your prose!”