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Washington is a town of self-indulgence, huge egos, and self-congratulation. A yearly ritual at which such traits are most grandly on display is nearly upon us. Tomorrow night is the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner. There is even a website about the dinner, where you can count down the seconds until the exciting event begins.
And who gets in to the dinner? According to the website:
What news organizations are eligible to get a table and how do they pick their guests? News organizations that employ members of the White House Correspondents’ Association can rest assured that they will get tables (approximately $2,000 a pop in recent years) for the big night…If you are not a White House reporter, top editor, or bureau chief then you have to be invited by a news organization, and scoring tickets is about as easy as getting a subprime loan approved right now. Even the most well-connected can have a hard time, and the 2009 bash may prove to be the most exclusive one of all. The President is the guest of honor, and the demand to see the first rock star president in modern history has made the annual scramble harrowing.
All dressed up with no ticket? No problem, just throw on that tuxedo or formal gown and head over to the Hilton anyway. But don’t think you’re going to sneak into the dinner, not with the airtight security that everyone is forced to go through. In the last ten years, a full red carpet parade has developed, with Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood and other entertainment shows lined up to talk to celebrities as they enter the hotel. Last year was a classic as Pamela Anderson followed Colin Powell down the line…[But after] parties are thrown at different places, usually within walking distance of the Hilton.
So, opportunity abounds. After all, in Washington, where there’s a will to get up close to the powerful, there’s almost always a way.
Here are some of the guests this year:
CNN: Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Val Kilmer, Kyra Sedgwick, Brad Cooper, Tyra Banks, Janet Napolitano.
ABC News: David and Susan Axelrod; Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff; Peter Orszag, Director, Office of Management and Budget; Valerie Jarrett, senior presidential advisor; Jackie Norris, First Lady’s Chief of Staff; Leon Panetta, CIA Director; Susan Rice, UN Ambassador; Justice Antonin Scalia; Meghan McCain; Jon and Dorothea Bon Jovi; Kate Walsh; Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel.
USA TODAY: Tim Daly, Justin Long, Richard Belzer, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Mona Sutphen, Dept. of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Michelle Obama staffer Jocelyn Frye
Newsweek: Lally Weymouth, Donald Graham and Jon Meacham, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Attorney General Eric Holder. R. Todd Bradley, Executive Vice President, Personal Systems Group, Hewlett Packard; David Brennan, CEO, AstraZeneca; Representative Eric and Diana Cantor (R-VA).
And the Houston Chronicle has invited none other than Alberto Gonzales.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:
A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.
Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”