Chuck Schumer's favorite Chinese restaurant in Washington was closed for a private party — his Positively American book party — Tuesday night, and Bernie Sanders, the Brooklyn-born Socialist senator from Vermont, was impressed. "This is a historic night," Sanders said, picking string beans straight from the buffet and chatting with Jerry Nadler, the West Side's man in the House of Representatives. "I've been coming here for years and I've never seen it shut down, but they shut it down for Schumer. He has reached the top. He has shut down the Hunan Dynasty."
Schumer can't actually take full credit for that accomplishment, though we have no doubt he would try. Even if the blue suits were ostensibly there to celebrate his first book, about an imaginary middle-class Long Island family and how to market the Democratic party to them, they were just as much there for his host, freshly declared presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Before the night was over, at least nine senators — including majority leader Harry Reid and the two heavyweights from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, glided across the restaurant's red carpet. Three youngish guys — staffers, presumably — were standing near the back, marveling at the crowd. "It's Hillary," one explained, though she had yet to appear. "This is a celebrity-starved city, so they don't know what to make of her," said another. While they were waiting for Mrs. C., they hounded New York's senior senator for autographs. "It's something, isn't it?" murmured Maine representative Tom Allen. "I see Chuck in the gym." They both use the treadmill. —Elspeth Reeve