Friday, April 26, 2013

Crash 6 - Center for a New American Security: "A Conversation with Senator John S. McCain"

I have two very good reasons for the delay in posting this. The first was the Boston manhunt. We could have used a Bruce Willis character, but it wasn't really time for a Bruce Willis joke. Secondly, and equally crazy/scary/stressful, for all of America, was my first meeting with my girlfriend's family. "So what do you do" has become a toughie these days... "Glad you asked sir. You see I've actually created an anonymous internet identity for myself, under which I mooch from Washington's most respected scholars and research institutes. Then I make fun of them and compare them to 90210 characters on the internet. Profitable? What part of free sandwiches was unclear? But enough about me. I hear you went to Yale? That must of been an experience..."

How did it go? Well, over the course of dinner, both of my girlfriend's parents created their first Twitter accounts. Literally at the dinner table. Then they started following @PanelCrasher. They follow only me.... or rather, only my weird secret internet identity. So yes, they are awesome (hey guys!). On to the boner jokes?

Despite the manhunt/parental visit, I still made it over the The Willard Hotel last Wednesday for a luncheon event hosted by the Center for a New American Security called "A Conversation with Senator John S. McCain". Twas a fancy affair with a fancy lunch in a fancy conference room in a fancy hotel. After lunch, McCain gave a speech on the future of U.S. foreign policy and the Republican party. Here he is in this terrible picture:

I'll briefly sum up the substance of this speech, which you've probably already read about on real websites:

McCain was the man though, his speech was legitimately interesting, and he made a bunch of great jokes. He's exactly like Joe Biden with the added ability of not being a super creepy loose cannon. During a series of jokes about low congressional approval ratings  for example, which I assumed would suck, he mentioned that he saw a poll where people ranked Congress two points below a colonoscopy. He added that "as an older man of some experience, that's quite remarkable!" Big laugh from the old boys in the room I'll tell ya.

Politics aside, any time you’re a senior Senator, war hero, former presidential candidate, and you can bring the house down with a reference to the time you had a camera shoved up your butt? You're good in my book.

He also referred to himself as an "old wacko bird" at one point. Not sure what that is, but it made me giggle.

This was a very classy affair. The tables were formally set with white table cloths, nice china, and lots of different forks. So many forks. CNAS provided a plated hot lunch served by a formally dressed Willard wait staff. The whole thing was basically this:

Just to clarify that reference, I'm Leo, obviously.

Lunch was a very nicely roasted chicken breast with bread rolls and a sort of greek/caesar salad mix. A Greco-Roman Salad, if you will, without the pedophilia. Ice tea, water, and coffee were served as well, and the Willard folks were pretty on point with refills. Lastly, in the middle of the table was a delightful little spread of cookies, brownies, pastries, and lemon bars! This picture captures the general ballerness of it all:

Also, fancy printed menus like at weddings. Tight.

When I walked in, my first observation was that I was the only guy not in a suit or a military dress uniform. I went business casual. Shit:

I was feeling pretty obvious and out of place milling around awkwardly...until this guy walked in:

First question. Why is the Indian Guy from The Royal Tenenbaums at a Republican foreign policy luncheon? 

Second question: Why does he exclusively wear red pants with no belt and a poofy white shirt? 
Answer, based exclusively on googling "red pants": He is either in a boy band or a Twilight movie:

One Direction red pants!

 Jonas red pants!


Red pants are in guys. You heard it here first.

What's really driving me insane is that I've seen this guy before. I can't remember where, but he was wearing the exact same outfit. This made me suspect that our friend, who I'll call Robert Redpants, is a professional crasher. I was right. Before McCain even arrived, Robbie stuffed as much Greco-Roman as he could in his mouth (that's what he/she said), shook hands with his tablemates, picked up his red canvas shopping bag full of magical trinkets, and walked out. So shameless that no one questioned it. Amazing.

As for my table mates, I lucked out. Round tables are bad news for me because it forces conversation. I sat at a table by myself, but was soon surrounded by three big guys in suites. One was a DEA agent, one was with the World Bank, and the other was from somewhere with the word "strategic" in it. My fears were briefly allayed when without so much as an introduction, we all got tucked in to the free lunch. Men, you see.

Then she showed up. State Department girl with two first names. Lets call her Susan Ashley, AKA Captain Enthusiasm. Susan Ashley went around to each of us and REALLY enthusiastically introduced herself and her affiliation: "Hi! Susan Ashley with the State Department! Hi nice to meet you I'm Susan Ashley with the State Department! How are you? Susan Ashley with the State Department! Susan Ashley with State!" Um, we're all literally sitting next to each other here. We had it the first time.

Now I figured I'd get out ahead of things because Susan was going to force conversation on us, so I asked the DEA guy whether he was affiliated with CNAS, or some other question I didn't really care about. He barely looks up from his meal: "No man, they just have awesome free lunches." This kicked off series of enthusiastic nods and agreements from the other two fellas. One added something like "Yea the food's great, and you know, McCain is an important guy I guess." These guys are my new best friends. Best table ever. Best meal yet.

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