Michael Powell of the New York Times wrote a delicious pool report--with his ruminations about the role of wealth in our society--covering high-dollar fund-raisers headlined by presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Tuesday night, with one in the elegant "chateau" of Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WVa.)
Rockefeller is married to Sharon Percy, the daughter of former Sen. Charles Percy (R-Ill.), whose career in the Senate ended when he was defeated by Democrat Paul Simon. Simon hired one David Axelrod away from his job as a Chicago Tribune political writer, launching Axelrod on his political career when he joined the Simon campaign.
Today Axelrod is Obama's chief strategist. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) went on to win the seat held by Simon. Click below for the magnificent Powell pool report....
From the Powell pool report....
Our night began at The Rocks, Jay Rockefeller’s chateau away from chateau deep in the hills of Rock Creek Park. To reach the site of this particular Obama fundraiser, you wind along the edges of Rock Creek Park and then turn up a steep, long, hey mistah Rockefeller, howabout $3000 to shovel your driveway sort of entryway.
There are oaks and Chestnut trees and then there’s the house, with four Ionic columns and a slate roof and 17 windows across the front and the Rockefellers apparently suffer no critical shortage of guest bedrooms. It is a useful reminder that before the Gates and Bloomberg and Warren B., there was old man John D. Rockefeller, who bequeathed successive generations of descendants a truly astonishing boodle of money.
But I digress. The fundraiser was standard issue, if it’s Tuesday night aren’t we dropping $28,500 per to dine with Barack? Your faithful scribes sat outside in an air-conditioned van whilst drinks were sipped. Then a staffer led us to an ante-room, where we noticed “The Reclining Bather” by Pablo Picasso. Just a thought, but I’d place a mid-two figures wager it was not a print.
e In time, waiters served appetizers, a summer tropics crab salad, and a tell-tale tinkling of glasses indicated that the hoi polloi (that would be us) might wander into the dining room hear the remarks.
Sharon and Jay Rockefeller extolled their candidate, as the best, the brightest, and “profoundly intelligent.” Mrs. Rockefeller noted that her father, Charles H. Percy, once occupied the senate seat now held by the candidate.
Barack Obama stood beneath a crystal chandelier and gave a fairly low key speech touching on familiar themes. He thanked Howard Dean, who sat in the corner, for his leadership of the Democratic National Committee, noting that the former Vermont governor came up with the 50-state strategy that Obama now hews to. To buttress his case, Obama quoted the “famous political strategist” Woody Allen, who opined that “90 percent of life is just showing up.”
The candidate noted that he hoped to inspire, JFK-like, the young to public service.
“One of the things I think we might be able to do is make government cool again,” he said. “And that is desperately needed.”
And with that he finished and the press was escorted out by the John Singer Sargent and Mary Cassat paintings and the funders were left behind to munch on filet of beef with a Mustard-Cognac sauce, a potato nest and so on, all washed down with sundry American and French wines.
By desert, chocolate Corinthian glaces are alleged to have appeared, though your scribes had long departed.
From there, we took off for a hotel off Connecticut Avenue in Woodley Park, where various geeks and wonks stood in a more industrial strength hall and showered techno-dollars on Obama. This group of 550 included his Harvard law school buddy Julius Genachowski and the monetary stakes at this one were, well, almost pedestrian, costing a mere $2,300 to sip a drink with the famously abstemious candidate.
Flusher types, however, were encouraged to pay $2300 for a VIP reception with the candidate. Jay Rockefeller again did the openings, this time opining that for the first time in more than 40 years “I’ve met the man, the only person I’ve really wanted to see as president.”
Hold that thought: Not Johnson? Not Robert Kennedy, or McGovern or Carter or Mondale or Dukakis or Clinton or Gore? Not even big John Kerry? So there’s the list. Unfortunately, we could obtain no answers as Obama pool rules state that we can stare at and listen to the participants but no touching or talking.