Sometimes the guest list is what sets one party apart from all the others. That was certainly the case with the late-night inaugural soiree hosted Saturday at the Madison Hotel by six Washingtonians who have infinite connections and influence: Ann and Vernon Jordan, Buffy and Bill Cafritz, and Vicki and Roger Sant. The Jordans and Cafritzes hosted a similar party four years ago, and it was the first glimpse anyone in Washington got of the Obama inner circle, in particular presidential senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and then-Social Secretary Desirée Rogers.
With a second inauguration, that curiosity factor is gone. This time around, in a room where just about every guest was connected in one way or another, it was interesting to see actress Ashley Judd, who arrived with her friend Mark Ein. Attending this particular party was as much as saying that yes, she is serious about running for the Senate in Kentucky. So far she’s said she’s taking a look, but there were people at the party (not the least of them Jordan) who can help her get from a Hollywood acting career to a Washington political role.
The so-called “Bi-Partisan Celebration on the Occasion of the Inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States” began at 9:30, lasted past midnight, and filled most of the Madison’s second-floor party rooms with food, bars and people who mostly all know one another, plus a jazz combo that was barely audible above the roar of voices. The men were in business suits, the women in cocktail dresses, and the mood was ebullient.
Here’s a random selection from the official guest list: Mayor Vincent Gray, Valerie Jarrett, Jean and Steve Case, Robert Allbritton, Jeremy Bernard, Librarian of Congress James Billington, Italian ambassador Claudio Bisogniero, British ambassador Peter Westmacott, Wolf Blitzer, David and Katherine Bradley, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Brian Williams, Bill Cohen and Janet Langhart, Bill Daley, French ambassador François Delattre, congressman John Dingell and Debbie Dingell, Linda Douglass and John Phillips, Ken and Jackie Duberstein, Ron and Beth Dosoretz, Mark Ein, Ricardo and Isabel Ernst, Chris Dodd, Pamela Brown with her mother, Phyllis George, Nancy Brinker, Bob Barnett and Rita Braver, Mike Barnicle, Sally Quinn, Donald Graham and Amanda Bennett, Alan Greenspan and Andrea Mitchell, Al Hunt, Gwen Ifill, Martin Indyk, Walter Isaacson, Michael Kahn, Virginia senator Tim Kaine, Chris Isham, Mandy Grunwald, David Gregory, David Gergen, Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Ronald Gault, Maestro Christoph Eschenbach, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Paul and Carol Laxalt, senator Patrick Leahy, Jim Lehrer, congressman Ed Markey and Susan Blumenthal, Jane Stanton Hitchcock and James Hoagland, Melissa Moss and Jonathan Silver, Molly Raiser, Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall, Susan Rice, Chuck and Lynda Johnson Robb, Heather Podesta, Bill and Ann Nitze, Ann Stock, Donna Shalala, Selwa “Lucky” Roosevelt, Gerald Rafshoon, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Jessye Norman, Laura Tyson and Erik Tarloff, Greta Van Sustern, Melanne Verveer and Philip Verveer, former CIA director William Webster and Lynda Webster, David and Sherry Westin, former DC mayor Anthony Williams, Virginia senator Mark Warner, senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Richard Haass and Susan Mercandetti, John Macomber, Ed Mathias, Polly Kraft, Debra Lee, Bonnie LePard and Bruce Reed, Julianna Smoot, Stephanie Cutter, George and Liz Stevens, Norah O’Donnell and Geoff Tracy, Toby and Myra Moffett, Maureen Orth, John Negroponte, Andrea Roan, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, congressman Doris Matsui, Willee and Finlay Lewis, John and Joanna Mason, Aubrey Sarvis, Spencer Abraham, Cindy Adams, Jonathan Alter, Adrienne Arsht, Elizabeth Bagley, Senator Roy Blunt and Abby Blunt, Johnnie B. Booker and Ingrid Saunders-Jones, Eli Broad, Lebanese ambassador H.E. Chedid, William T. Coleman, Tom and Linda Daschle, Arnaud and Alexandra de Borchgrave, Jan Chipman, Huda and Smia Farouki, Richard Moe, Peggy Noonan, Catherine Reynolds, Hillary Rosen, Miles and Nancy Rubin, Fred Ryan, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Nancy Bagley and Souroush Shehabi, Charlie Rose, Kathleen and Chris Matthews, Mary Margaret Valenti, judge Anne Claire Williams, Steve Rattner, and Maureen White.
Not on the official list, but definitely at the party, was Jesse Jackson, who arrived late but in time to huddle with Brian Williams by the dessert buffet as photographers swarmed them.