On Monday night the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington hosted the Ploughshares Fund Gala. Ploughshares Fund is a bi-partisan group aiming to put an end to the remnants of the nuclear proliferation age, and finally making the world a nuclear-free place for future generations. The gala featured prominent figures, such as Sec. of State John F. Kerry, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, former Sen. Richard Lugar, among other V.I.P.’s.
Margaret Carlson, Bloomberg, Steve Clemons, The Atlantic, Sally Quinn, Washington Post, Ben Ambruster, Think Progress/Center for American Progress, Ali Gharib, Open Zion/Daily Beast, Matt Duss, Think Progress/Center for American Progress, former Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky (she worked for George W. Bush), Tom Toles, WaPo (Cartoonist; and wife Gretchen Toles), Sam Feist, CNN, Andrew Morse, CNN, Moira Whelan, State Department, Sen. Ed Markey, Olga Khazan, The Atlantic, Josh Rogin, Daily Beast, Uri Friedman (moving this week from Foreign Policy to The Atlantic), Jean Francois-Boittin, Embassy of France, Anne Gearan, WaPo, Richard Wilhelm, Booz Allen, Jay Newton-Small, Time Magazine, Bruce Gottlieb, National Journal, Michael Powell, American Federation of Teachers, Dixon Osburn, Human Rights First, Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street, and Warren Bass, Wall Street Journal.
The Master of Ceremonies for the night was Emmy and Academy award winning actor Michael Douglas, who’s passion for complete global nuclear disarmament has put him in the same league as some of the most powerful people in the world who are not actor (beat that, Clooney).
Whose speech outshined the rest at this anti-nuke open-bar gala soiree?
The president of Ploughshares Fund, Joe Cirincione, kicked off the night’s array of speakers by giving the gala-goers a brief history of the group, its goals and past successes. He then handed the floor over to Douglas, who spoke about his involvement with the group, the importance of its aims, and then rallied the crowd like Kirk Douglas‘ did as ‘Spartacus’ so many years ago in that one movie. His words seemed to have inspired the crowd to begin to take action (or stick around for desserts and cocktails after of the gala).
Truth be told, when Douglas introduced Kerry, many were expecting the dull, droll presidential candidate from 2004 to walk in and pull an Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, just boring everyone to tears. Instead, Kerry straight up stuck his head right into the hunnytree, diving straight into a poignant and impassioned speech about the need for the end of nuclear weaponry, while citing Iran and North Korea as two of the main stressors to the somewhat harmonious state of nuclear tranquility. By the way, if anyone’s still looking for a Halloween costume, nuclear annihilation would win any costume contest.
And just like that, in a flash, after he spoke, Kerry was gone. He got a standing ovation and before the last clap was clapped, he’d already left the building.
Quoteables: Post speeches, Douglas mingled and took pictures with Pelosi, until she left. He stayed and continued partying and gala’ing it up. FishbowlDC was able to toss him a softball question before the Peace Institute kicked everyone out. Asked for his thoughts on a possible Kerry/Douglas campaign ticket in 2016, he grinned and replied, “You know, I’ve got a script…” and just kind of raised an eyebrow and laughed. It’s unclear what that means (FishbowlDC doesn’t speak cyptic-Hollywood), but it definitely didn’t sound like a no.
Sidenote: A close friend of Douglas’ tossed a wrench into the gears when he strongly recommended against asking any Catherine Zeta Jones-related questions last night. The couple is going through a break, and the topic was apparently still far too raw to poke at during the gala. Plus, there was an open bar, and that should be a joyously celebrated experience between bros.
Secretary Kerry’s remarks from the gala here.