The all-star panel included Erica Jong, Nora Ephron, Craig Newmark (founder of Craigslist), Trey Ellis (a novelist and screenwriter), and Paul Rieckhoff (executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America). Huffington moderated, radiating elegance and financial success.
The house was packed, and the crowd giddy with anticipation. Introducing her group, Huffington called Newmark “The man who single-handedly destroyed American newspapers,” and plugged Jong’s newest book of poems, Love Comes First. Some predictions on the end of partisanship followed. Huffington claimed that left and right wing terminology “will soon be obsolete.” The massive Rieckhoff, providing the military standpoint, said, “Among the troops in Iraq, there were no Democrats or Republicans. Everybody worked together.” He’d been one of the Purple ticket holders locked out of the inauguration, but thought the lack of rioting or arrests augured well for peace in 2009.
Trey Ellis, who confessed, “It’s a great time to be a skinny middle-aged black man,” foresaw the rise of young black nerds. Thanks to Obama, he said, they will no longer feel ashamed for being smart. Newmark concurred. “I’m speaking as someone who literally wore a pocket protector as a kid,” he said. He gave Trey the Vulcan salute.
But the real point of the event, as quickly became clear, was to witness HuffPo bloggers make culturally relevant bon mots about news items in a live setting. Of Rod Blagojevich, Nora Ephron said, “It was so exciting, in the middle of the Bernie Madoff thing, to have someone bad come along with the syllable ‘goy’ in his name.” The crowd erupted.