Presidential Inauguration 2013

01.20.13

Politicians and Celebrities Flock to Newsweek’s Inaugural Brunch

Howard Kurtz sets the scene at a brunch that drew everyone from Harvey Weinstein to Grover Norquist, David Axelrod to Eva Longoria. The Daily Beast’s bipartisan brunch, in partnership with Credit Suisse, at Georgetown’s Cafe Milano, was co-hosted by editor in chief Tina Brown, Credit Suisse’s Pamela Thomas-Graham, Mark McKinnon, Longoria, and Weinstein.
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From left, Harvey Weinstein, Credit Suisse’s Pamela Thomas-Graham, Tina Brown, Mark McKinnon, and Eva Longoria attend The Daily Beast’s bipartisan brunch in partnership with Credit Suisse on Sunday in Washington, D.C. (Scott Henrichsen/Newsweek)

At a Georgetown restaurant so packed with politicians and celebrities that movement could be measured in inches, Tina Brown spoke Sunday about her dream.

Her vision, the editor in chief said over the din at Newsweek and The Daily Beast’s brunch this inaugural weekend, is of a city where “Democrats and Republicans treat each other with civility, dignity, and respect,” and “pettiness” and “partisanship” are put aside.

After all, Brown said, “if a star football player can have a mythical girlfriend, why can’t I have a mythical Congress?”

The theme of the event at Cafe Milano was bipartisanship, a point underscored when antitax activist Grover Norquist walked in and asked, “Are there any Republicans here?”

There were indeed, as former GOP congressman Tom Davis eyed the lavish buffet near former secretary of state Madeleine Albright. But as befits a gathering on the day Barack Obama was sworn in for a second term, the room was packed with Democratic heavyweights, from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, from former party chairman Terry McAuliffe to longtime Obama adviser David Axelrod.

Mark McKinnon, a onetime Democrat who became a top campaign strategist for George W. Bush and John McCain, said the public must support members of Congress who are "by and large great civil servants" despite partisan differences.

After all, Brown said, “if a star football player can have a mythical girlfriend, why can’t I have a mythical Congress?”

McKinnon, a Newsweek and Daily Beast contributor and the leader of the No Labels movement, made a symbolic bow to Axelrod, recalling his words to the Obama loyalist four years ago, when the now 44th president was about to succeed Bush.

“I’m giving you the keys to the gates of hell,” McKinnon recalled saying at the time. Now, he added, “congratulations on renewing your lease.”

Video screenshot

'Miss Obama's first term? Here's everything that happened, in 120 seconds.'

Harvey Weinstein, the film producer and Miramax cofounder, said he worked hard for Obama’s reelection. But he said he has also backed such Republicans as Rudy Giuliani and George Pataki. He also praised House Speaker John Boehner for compromising during the fiscal-cliff showdown.

“I haven’t seen this many Republicans since my bar mitzvah,” Weinstein cracked, surveying the crowd.

Brown praised the likes of Weinstein and Eva Longoria, a high-profile Obama supporter, for joining the bipartisan brunch. “They know nothing of petty grudges, oversized egos, and pointless feuds,” she said. “They’re from Hollywood.”