Babysitting tales at the Washington Press Foundation Dinner; Patrick Kennedy keeps them laughing at the N Street Village Gala
By Janet Donovan
Had the suits at NBC known about Claire McCaskill’s comedic talents, they might have considered her for a late night gig between Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno.
The senator from Missouri, known for her no-nonsense style, took the audience by surprise at the Washington Press Foundation’s 66th Annual Congressional Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel when she outwitted fellow speakers Rep. Mike Pence, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Sen. Lamar Alexander.
“The Senate’s the only place where a woman like me can feel like a hot young chick,” she quipped. “My job tonight is to be like the Iceland volcano, blow a lot of smoke and keep everyone from leaving when they want to.”
Annabelle Bohannon, wife of talkmeister Jim Bohannon, reminisced that she, her husband, and the senator had all grown up in the same little town of Lebanon, Mo., and that she had been McCaskill’s babysitter. “The word on Claire was that you put her to bed and 20 minutes later you had to go in to find her under the covers with a flashlight reading a book,” Jim Bohannon added. Neither has been surprised at her success.
Pence mentioned that it “wasn’t hard to update” the speech he’d planned to give last month at the originally scheduled dinner that got canceled due to heavy snow. “Everywhere I had ‘Tiger Woods,’ I just subbed in ‘RNC Young Eagles.’”
Credit where due: Mika Brzezinski’s snipe at MSNBC co-host Joe Scarborough of “Morning Joe:” “I grew up in Washington, something I hope Joe will do one day, too.”
The 2010 recipient of the foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award was Dorothy Gilliam, the first African American woman to report for The Washington Post.
The pre-party was sponsored by CQ-Roll Call Group and the after party by The Hill.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
Rep. Patrick Kennedy was both passionate and amusing when he took the podium at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel to receive the N Street Village Founders’ Award for his work in mental health. As his older sister, Kara, looked on, he referred to the “little car accident” that made “a little news,” and then thanked former colleague Jim Ramstad (a recovering alcoholic) for not only helping him through a difficult ordeal but putting his own career in jeopardy. “I offered to campaign against him if it helped,” Kennedy said of his Republican friend.
Kennedy also said he was worried Rep. Jim Moran would no longer take his phone calls: “I mean, I’ll be a nobody then.” Moran shot back: “Don’t call me, Kennedy.”
The soon-to-retire Rhode Island congressman choked up as he spoke of his late father’s main goal in life, passing health care reform, then addressed his plans for the future.
“I’m looking forward after my time in Congress to work on these issues, help use the new health bill and implement it correctly, and work with insurers to come up with a good model of care that’s based on a functional measurement. “
Kennedy was astonished that so many of his congressional colleagues not only made it to the event but stayed to the end. “It’s amazing that any of them have shown up,” he said, adding that it was “a big deal to stay for the whole dinner.”
N Street Village provides housing and other support services for the homeless and low-income.
Guests included Reps. Paul Hodes, John Tanner, Jim Moran, Jeff Miller, and Dennis Moore; Sens. Ben Nelson and Byron Dorgan; and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.