I braved three parties last night and each said something about this moment we find ourselves in.
The first was Bipartisan Policy Center, founded by the likes of Tom Daschle and Bob Dole, and promotes bipartisan policies. My old boss, Walter Isaacson, spoke, as did Ron Brownstein, whose Second Civil War does an excellent job of chronicling how our politics became so divided. Amidst the plates of hummus and baba ganoush, there was a feeling that Obama really could bridge partisan divides.
Scene change: Went over to MoveON/SEIU party which was groovy. It was held at a Georgetown art gallery displaying dozens of Obama related pieces of art as part of the Manifest Hope project. Aside from the Belvedere Vodka, there were plenty of hipsters in black, no members of Congress as best I could tell, and Moby and Michael Stipe.
It’s telling of the moment that MoveOn is as enthused as any group of avowed bipartisans. The grassroots organization will continue to play a major role in organizing and, as one person involved in progressive politics told me at the party, “giving Obama the political space to do what he needs to do and to say things in a plausibly deniable way” that a Democratic Party or White House organization couldn’t. I take it seriously. If any group presaged the Obama organization, it’s MoveOn. (The irony of it is having begun as an anti-Clinton-impeachment group–Move On meant move on from the Starr-era investigations–it became such a bane of Hillary Clinton’s during the primaries.)
The mother of all fetes was the Huffington Post soiree at the Newseum, the massively impressive homage to journalism built by ailing news organizations. (So that’s where the money went!)
There must have been 2000 people there, or so the coat check folks said. I’d seen the place crowded for many parties, including the 50th anniversary of “Meet the Press” but this was the most packed, with four floors of the museum filled with partygoers. Sting and Sheryl Crow played. They handed out New Year’s Eve style blowers at midnight to herald the new day.
There’s a lot of blather about old media vs. new media/internet vs. print. The truth is more complex and best left for another discussion. Still, you had to be amazed that there is no media party of comparable size. Much of that is owing to our friend, Arianna, and her knack for drawing a crowd. But it says something about the moment we’re in.
The day before, I’d seen on the chyron while watching Fox News–sorry, TPM readers–that the New York Times was in negotiations with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, already a Times investor, for him to take a bigger stake and ease their cash woes. The next day, HuffPo, is dancing in the marble house the Times and its brethren helped build.