Dinner-Party Diplomacy

Dolley Madison often got political foes together over a fine meal. It's still a good tactic

Illustration for TIME by Christian Northeast

Dolly Madison, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson have dinner at the White House.

With barely more than a year and a half left in his term, George W. Bush has finally pulled out a centuries-old weapon in the political arsenal of Washington power players: the dinner party. As politicians of both parties emerge from evenings at the White House impressed with their host (and themselves), they ask the same question: What took the President so long? Here's an affable man with an engaging wife; you'd think he would have used the power of the invitation years ago. Intimate gatherings in the family quarters dazzle even the most hardened pols. It's probably no accident that...

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