Yellen Crowd-Pleaser at Wilson Dinner

Janet Yellen was a bipartisan favorite during last night’s Woodrow Wilson Awards dinner at the Willard Intercontinental in Washington.

“My opinion is girl power,” said the Wilson Center president, Jane Harman, a former congresswoman, of the economist nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as the Federal Reserve’s first female chairman.

“Two thumbs up,” said Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, during the cocktail hour. Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, left early to attend talks on the partial government shutdown, yet praised Yellen before her exit.

The Wilson Center, named for the 28th president, fosters research on a range of international issues. This year’s dinner chairman was David Rubenstein, who met Harman 35 years ago when they were “lowly Capitol Hill staffers,” as she described it. Rubenstein, co-founder of the Carlyle Group, was essentially the same guy back then, but without “the bank account and jet,” she said.

Rubenstein assured the guests that they are all “essential,” the buzz word of furlough-speak in a shutdown that has sidelined hundreds of thousands of federal workers deemed non-essential.

“How many ’essential’ people do you think know how to transfer a call?” he asked the crowd. “I don’t think very many.”

Rubenstein, dining next to Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House minority whip from Maryland, said Hoyer had given him the inside scoop on the budget negotiations, which he would divulge to guests who helped the center reach its million-dollar goal for the evening. The fundraising total at the time was $900,000.

Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News.

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