Friday, November 04, 2005

The Guest List

A White House dinner guest list is an entertainment in itself, especially to those of us who couldn’t make the dinner for lack of a babysitter and/or FBI clearance. Last night’s black sites affair in honor of the Prince and Princess of Wails and Laments is pretty much a roadmap to the mix of cultural fluorescence with the essence of crass and parvenu guile that has always been this administration’s signature. The list is extremely long, this being the fifth year of a presidency with a Reagan-worthy deficit of favors to pay back and face-saving to buy. Let’s just point out the highlights:

Michael Beschloss, the Anderson Cooper of presidential historians who is equally and naturally at ease writing about Dwight Eisenhower’ s wardrobe as he is about the first Bush’s character; Tom Brokaw, whose absence reminds us every day why the demise of the quite alleged greatest generation of television anchors was only a decade and a half too late; the first George Bush, whose presence reminds us every day why the Bush progeny has overstayed its welcome by a decade and a half; Barbara Lucky-Are-the-Poor Bush; Jenna Bush (no comment necessary); Neil Bush, because the Bush White House just doesn’t have enough scandals on its plate; Rev. Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, the Wharton grad and ex-six-figuring broker who’s now trying to give Bruce Barton a run for his Jesus with his—and pardon my Aramaic—I shit you not, Gospel of Good Success: A Road Map to Spiritual, Emotional, and Financial Wholeness; Joseph Canizaro, one of the most lavish soft-money donors to the GOP who makes Bill Clinton’s leasing of the Lincoln Bedroom to the highest donor look like a slumber-party prank; Darth Vader and wife; Harlan Crow, who is Clarence Thomas' Medici, who plunked down the dollars for the first Bush's presidential library and (again from the merde-you-not department) likes to collect statues of tyrants like Hitler and Castro; Oscar de la Renta (see wardrobe connection above); Llwyd Ecclestone, the Florida megabuilder of Gatsby mansions, shadow of Jeb and enthusiast of license plate photography (although to be fair the Gatsbuilder in Palm Beach is Ecclestone III, and the White House Ecclestone is Jr.); Bradford M. Freeman, one of Bush's Pioneer fund-raisers who had the good graces to take the Bush cat when the Bushes moved into the White House, so the thing didn't scratch the furniture, and whose brother had the good grace to accept an embassadorship to Belize; Bill Frist (even a Senate majority leader needs to eat between stock deals); Kelsey Grammer, who must be the president's new drinking buddy; Joe Lieberman, who is to political identity what Rupaul is to pink; Yo-Yo Ma, apparently sans cello, because the Department of Homeland Security wouldn't permit it; Azar Nafisi, who'd better not be caught reading Lolita in the White House, though it'd have the same effect as it did in Teheran; General Peter Pace, because even the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff needs a princely crowd to toast 2,000 (or is it 2037?); Nancy Reagan, who should be caught reading The Book of Laughter and Forgetting; Chief Justice John Roberts, who must still be working on his separation of powers certificate; Witold Rybczynski, who'd better not start talking about "the fundamental poverty of modern architectural ideas" to the likes of Ecclestone; Linda Scott, whose husband Lee couldn't be there because he's been too busy finding ways to further screw Wal-Mart employees(and American workers, if he gets his way) out of decent benefits; Tom Watson, for those nine holes the president, not unlike his predecessors, just can't do without before bed; and Herman Wouk, for those breezy winds of war the president seem to need to validate his identity.

As Prince Charles so eloquently put it in his toast before the State Dining Room set, "On the day Rosa Parks is laid to rest, there is a powerful message, I think, here about tolerance and inclusion that has relevance for the whole international community." Inclusive relevance indeed.