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Dianne Feinstein does her bit for Obama-Clinton unity

June 6, 2008 | 12:00 pm

She's no Perle Mesta (an admittedly archaic and D.C.-centric reference; see below), but on Thursday night at least, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California was the most renowned hostess in Washington.

It was only a party of two -- Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, holding an unannounced tete-a-tete in Feinstein's living room -- but it was a gathering that had the nation's capital buzzing today.

Feinstein, a fervent Clinton supporter but one who had dropped broad hints lately that her favored candidate needed to prepare for exiting the Democratic presidential race, told various news outlets that the senator from New York called late Thursday afternoon to ask if her home could serve as semi-neutral turf for the sit-down about 9 p.m. EDT.

Feinstein not only graciously opened her doors but also discreetly absented herself, working upstairs while Clinton and Obama chatted privately. And if she overheard anything -- other than laughter -- she wasn't telling.

That's another sign of a good hostess. Still, Feinstein might want to bone up on Mesta's skill set. As you can read in this story, refreshments consisted only of glasses of water.

-- Don Frederick

* Mesta, who died in 1975 at age 85, was Washington's premier socialite from the 1930s into the 1950s. She graced the cover of Time magazine's March 14, 1949, issue. And at one point, she served as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, an improbable appointment that framed the plot of the Irving Berlin musical "Call Me Madam."