News & Politics

Obama’s “A” List

Guess who might be coming to dinner

Under President Bush, the tradition of glamorous White House dinners withered. With the rock-star power of President-elect Obama, Washington could see a return to the days of John F. Kennedy’s star-studded White House soirees—especially if French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Obama’s international buddy, arrives for dinner with wife Carla Bruni.

Suggestions for the first guest list:

Oprah Winfrey—An argument could be made that the presidential campaign began on her couch when Obama expressed interest in running for president.

Howard Gutman—The former Mark Warner fundraiser in chief and Williams & Connolly partner became one of Obama’s biggest Washington cheerleaders.

Don and Megan Beyer—The former Virginia pol and car magnate was a top Obama fundraiser.

John Phillips—The husband of Obama spokeswoman Linda Douglass was a key entrée to Washington circles.

Spencer Overton—The GWU law professor is a top Obama fundraiser.

Toni Morrison—One of Obama’s favorite authors.

Stevie Wonder—A favorite singer of both Obamas. and John Legend —They performed the hit “Yes We Can” at the Democratic convention; the song came to define the Obama campaign.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar— The basketball star, who starred in the “Yes We Can” video, could play a game with Obama before dinner.

Laurence Tribe—The Harvard law professor, who counts Obama as one of his best students in 40 years, is a top Supreme Court prospect.

Marty Nesbitt—The CEO of airport company the Parking Spot is a close friend of Obama’s; his wife, obstetrician Anita Blanchard, delivered the Obama girls.

Steve Jobs—Obama’s a fan of technology, especially Jobs’s iPod.

Eric Schmidt—The Google head was one of the only CEOs to back Obama publicly during the campaign.

Thakoon Panichgul—The designer achieved overnight fame after dressing Michelle Obama for the Democratic convention.

Seth Goldman—The founder of Bethesda’s Honest Tea makes one of Obama’s favorite drinks, Black Forest Berry tea.

Marilynne Robinson—Author of the complex and moving book-club favorite Gilead, one of Obama’s favorite books.

Will Shortz—Puzzle editor of the New York Times; he has regularly featured the crossword-friendly word obama.

David Simon—The former Baltimore Sun reporter is the creator of one of Barack’s favorite shows, The Wire.

Abner Mikva—The legendary jurist has been a big Obama booster.

Daniel Akaka—The Hawaii senator would give Obama a taste of home.

Vernon Jordan—The Washington power broker is the great-uncle of Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett.

Craig Robinson—Michelle’s brother and the coach of Oregon State’s men’s basketball team. Could he bring along a few recruiting prospects?

Elena Kagan—The dean of Harvard Law School, which counts both Michelle and Barack as alumni, and a possible Supreme Court nominee.

Zariff—If invited, Obama’s Chicago barber might comp the President one of his $21 cuts.

David L. Scheiner—Obama’s Chicago physician has treated him for two decades.

Carter Phillips—The managing partner of the Washington office of Sidley Austin, the Chicago law firm where Barack and Michelle met.

Preeta Bansal—The President-elect’s Harvard Law School classmate is one of Obama’s immigration advisers.

Mark Warner—Virginia’s new junior senator could take Obama on in basketball.

Penny Pritzker—The woman who raised Obama’s many, many millions as campaign finance chair.

Bob Barnett—No matter whether Hillary Rodham Clinton or Obama won, the Washington superlawyer was going to have one of his clients and authors in the White House.

James Gandolfini—He supported John McCain, but one way to win over the star of one of Obama’s favorite shows, The Sopranos, would be a White House invite.

Sarah Jessica Parker—Michelle is a Sex and the City fan.

Hill Harper—The CSI: NY star played basketball with Obama in law school.

Will Smith—The popular actor is Michelle’s admitted “celebrity crush.”

Peter N.R.O. Ogego—The Kenyan ambassador would represent Obama’s African ancestry.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.— Another heir to the Camelot legacy is a key environmental adviser.

This article first appeared in the January 2009 issue of The Washingtonian. For more articles from that issue, click here.