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CAPITAL IDEA: Washington is back. For anyone in doubt, hostesses Buffy Cafritz and Ann Jordan gathered pals on Thursday to celebrate the reopening of the city’s onetime favorite restaurant, the Jockey Club, at the Fairfax Embassy Row Hotel, home of Cafritz’s first inaugural party back in 1985. But people were less interested in reminiscing than speculating what is to come once Obama takes office. “You’ll see a renaissance of people coming back to the White House, even with a difficult economy, because people want our President to shine,” said Ken Duberstein, former President Reagan’s chief of staff.
Alma Powell, wife of Colin Powell, disagreed. “I don’t expect there to be more parties. The times are too serious to have parties. That would be frivolous.”
Whoever calls it right, there’s no question the Jan. 20 inauguration has kicked up plenty of social buzz. Cafritz and Jordan will rejoin forces Jan. 19 to cohost Cafritz’s inaugural party for about 250 people at the Fairfax hotel, which this time around will get some competition from Arianna Huffington. The Greek-born Internet overseer of The Huffington Post is planning a late-night party for 1,000 at the Newseum with help from her pal Beth Dozoretz. Meanwhile, Duberstein will be a co-host for Rima Al-Sabah’s inaugural party at the Embassy of Kuwait on Jan. 18, along with Washington Post publisher Donald Graham, Leo and Grega Daley and Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty and his wife, Michelle. Others expected to host parties include Google and Oprah Winfrey, who will reportedly host a bash at the convention center.
Also in the crowd Thursday were Georgette Mosbacher, chief of protocol Nancy Brinker and Reagan White House social secretary Gahl Burt. Putting on a brave face was Debbie Dingell, the Washington representative for General Motors, who never let her smile sag despite her husband Rep. John Dingell’s defeat earlier that day by California liberal Henry Waxman as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Sporting the bravest face of all was Lynn Wyatt, who didn’t flinch when guests inquired about her absent husband, former oil tycoon Oscar Wyatt, who was just released after serving a year and a day in prison and a stint in a Houston halfway house for paying surcharges to Saddam Hussein in exchange for concessions to export Iraqi oil. “He’s out,” said Wyatt, adding, “Everyone asks if he lost weight. No. He had so many people to cook for him, even people to do his dry cleaning.”