Guest post about bi-partisan dinner from Jeff Sprung

Powell’s speech was the best. He said he was on the phone with his family from Asia on election night. He and his family all cried when it was announced that Obama was elected. He said to his family my God we did it (meaning, I believe, our country). Quite an admission from a dedicated military man. To him this was a reffirmation of what America is all about, of the dream Dr. King had about the promise of our country.
Powell called the civil rights movement our second civil war, and King was our second Abraham Lincoln.

In preparing his speech he asked himself what bipartisanship meant. He found two answers, one involving strong beliefs and willingness to debate, and the other taking up arms against one’s enemies. Powell said that the founding fathers envisioned the former form of partisanship in government, and they expected us to find compromises and consensuses in dealing with our differences.

Powell ended with a metaphor of a dictatorship being an ocean liner going directly from one point to another, while democracy is a lifeboat bobbing and weaving, rising and falling in the waves, yet ultimately reaching its destination. Peter and I agreed that it wasn’t a sterling finish!


Joe told a story I had heard him tell before. Its his Jesse Helms story about is learning that the meaning of bipartisanship is to freely question fellow senators’ political judgment, but not their motives.

Learned from his mentor Mike Mansfield. Biden came into Mansfield’s office as Helms was railing against the Americans for Disability Act.

Biden lit into Helms, and Mansfield informed him that Helms and his wife had just adopted an orphaned disabled boy in Charlotte. Biden never again attacked an opponent’s motives, only his judgment.

Biden ended by quoting a beautiful Shamus Heaney: poem that I’ll have to look up. It ended with savoring the rare moment when hope and history rhyme.

Faith Hill singing

Gotta get her CD. She just forgot her words and laughed about it.

Completely disarming, enchanting. She’s a real person, despite the success and hype. And a democrat! Gotta support that.

Obama speaking: now.

He says that Powell is remarkable for focus on fairness, caring for people. That is his reputation. His wife Alma is honored nearly as much as Colin is. They’ve developed a foundation apparently devoted to children.

Obama says tonight we rededicate ourselves to the work that begins tomorrow.

Other speakers were Sen. John Warner, with hosting by Claire McCaskill.

Warner predicted that Sen. McCaskill would be the first female majority leader. He praised McCain’s concession speech as having a place in history and spoke highly of Obama’s tendency to reach out for input.

McCaskill was an engaging host. Great job of moving it along and keeping the program about the speakers and not her.




Here are some notes I wrote from the speeches I heard tonight. Peter and I went to one of 3 bipartisan dinners – inaugural dinners honoring leaders of bipartisanship. This was an Obama innovation; past eve of inauguration dinners have been high-funder candle-lit banquets. Ours honored Colin Powell. Seated near us were Steven Spielberg, Austin Goulsby (an Obama econ whiz), and the newly elected Oregon senator whose name I don’t know. We sat with a table of Seattleites, loosely hosted by our friend.


One response to “Guest post about bi-partisan dinner from Jeff Sprung

  1. Suzi, the Seamus Heaney poem is The Cure at Troy – see here.
    It’s beautiful, and I think Clinton quoted from it from time to time as well. Thanks for your reflections on the inauguration – great to see the close up view…
    Lisa Chick

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