Dinner with the President on N Street
Last Friday night my good friend, Georgetown resident Dr. Jim D’Orta, hosted a fundraiser for President Barack Obama at his home in Georgetown. An emergency room physician by training and a successful businessman, Dr. D’Orta lives in the house formerly owned by Pamela and Averell Harriman. This was the house from which Pamela Harriman ran what was colloquially called ‘Pam PAC’ in the 1980s when the Democrats were out of office and out of power. It was where Bill Clinton first met many of those who would later support him in his race for the White House in 1992. He rewarded Harriman with the position of Ambassador to France. She later died in Paris of a stroke while swimming in the Ritz Hotel pool. Harriman is known as the premier courtesan of the 20th century. An amazing woman who I first had the pleasure of meeting when she and her last husband, former Governor of New York Averell Harriman, co-chaired a fundraising roast for Bella S. Abzug (D-NY) to retire the debt from her losing 1976 Senate race. The roast was held at Window’s on the World atop the World Trade Center.
Official co-host for the evening was Jim’s cousin Barbara Broccoli, producer of the James Bond movies. The attendees were a mix of people from the theater community, business community, and were a mix of gay and straight. There were actually two events in one. There was a reception upstairs for those contributing $10,000 and a reception and dinner for 50 at tables of ten downstairs where guests were asked to anti-up $35,800 a couple. Each guest got the opportunity to have a picture taken with the President. The President then spent time with the dinner guests and was both gracious and eloquent. He talked of what he has accomplished in the first three years and what he hopes to do in the next five. The President spoke for about 15 minutes and then had an easy give and take conversation with topics ranging from finance, bringing our troops home, to healthcare and campaign strategy. The President quoted Mario Cuomo, “You campaign in poetry but govern in prose” as he talked about the difference between campaigning and the more difficult role of governing a nation with two wars and a financial crisis. The partisan crowd was easy to charm and the President did that as he spoke about the need for Democrats to join together in this crucial election which he believes is a fight for the future of America.
Guests at the dinner included Broadway Producer Bill Haber and his wife Carol, asset manager Jim Roumell, tech CEO and politico Rick Stamberger, and Human Rights Campaign activists Barry Karas, Dana Perlman and Terry Bean. Guests were treated to entertainment before and after dinner from the incredibly talented Liz Calloway who sang the best version of the song ‘Memory’ that I have ever heard. Liz sang this for years on Broadway in CATS. The dinner was catered by Café Milano with an impressive chocolate dessert with the Presidential Seal in white chocolate. It definitely was an evening all attendees will long remember.
Written by Peter Rosenstein