Cockburn was wallowing in his second Martini at swanky Republican watering-hole Cafe Milano in Washington, DC last night when who should drift across his blurred field of vision? Only former vice-president and 2020 Democratic front-runner Joe Biden. Biden had presumably come for chow — or just to chat — after a Washington fundraiser held earlier that evening.
For one dizzying moment, Biden was inches from Cockburn himself. The career pol, who thinks he has room-working chops equal to to the disgracefully gregarious Bill Clinton, hove to alongside Cockburn’s table, giving a dazzling view of his gleaming teeth, his preternaturally dense hairline, and his firm, tight cheeks.
Biden seemed to squint, as though trying to remember who Cockburn was, or whether he had left his bifocals in the bathroom, or whether he recognized anyone at all, and should, as he is accustomed to do, begin talking to everyone in the room. Then he sailed on, leaving Cockburn in blessed anonymity.
As Cockburn mopped his feverish brow, Biden moved outdoors with the speed and agility of a 76-year-old, where a small but humble entourage awaited. He posed for at least one picture outside Cafe Milano, on Georgetown’s fancy Prospect Street. No word on what Biden had, but Cockburn, who sticks to liquids in the summer months, and often in the winter months too, hears that the populist palate is pleased by the halibut, followed by pistachio ice cream.
Cockburn was disappointed that Cafe Milano on Monday night was a low-key summer scene, rather than its notoriously raucous Saturday night self. Biden didn’t seem to attract all that much notice, likely as intended. Then again, Cafe Milano is also notorious as a Trump-era haunt of the ruling Republicans. It seems an odd place for a Biden palate freshener, the Democrat who’s struggling to paper over his differences with his party’s left. In recent days, Biden has been forced to reverse decades-long support of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits much of federal abortion funding.
Critics who hold their fork in their right hand and their ballot in their left may complain that the restaurant leans too far to the right. And it’s true that so far during the Trump era, Cockburn has had his truffling at the trough interrupted by the presence of Ivanka Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu, Youssef al-Otaiba, Robert Lighthizer, and Brian Hook — though not all on the same night. On Monday, Grover Norquist, the taxpayers’ advocate and eminence grise of DC’s conservative establishment, was among the diners pretending not to know Cockburn.
But the Cafe Milano management insist that they’re prepared to serve anyone, and remind us that Democrats galore frequented Cafe Milano in the Obama era, before the American public truly severed them from their expense accounts. Anyway, how far right is too far right for Biden? He is, after all, a Trump Republican.