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Photo: Tom Williams/Polaris for New York Magazine

Chuck Schumer’s favorite Chinese restaurant in Washington was closed for his Positively American book party last Tuesday night, and Bernie Sanders, the Brooklyn-born socialist senator from Vermont, was impressed. Standing in a back corner of the not exactly chic restaurant, gabbing with Upper West Side congressman Jerrold Nadler as he ate string beans straight from the buffet, Sanders noted, “This is a historic night. 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.”

“It’s something, isn’t it?” murmured Maine representative Tom Allen. “I see Chuck in the gym. He’s been a friend for a long period of time.” They both use the treadmill. Which might be wise if your favorite restaurant in D.C. is Hunan Dynasty. Of course, when he was writing this book, Schumer probably had no idea that he’d be fêted as the architect of the upset that took back the Senate. His book talks about the Baileys, an imaginary middle-class family, and how to market the Democratic Party to them. It is, like all politicians’ books, an advertisement for himself.

Except that even on this night, the focus wasn’t entirely on Schumer. Hillary Clinton was the host of the event. “This is a celebrity-starved city, so they don’t know what to make of her,” noted one ex-journalist present.

Finally, Hillary arrived and pushed through the suits. A woman blindsided her with a frighteningly enthusiastic hello. Hillary’s eyebrows jumped, but in a graceful recovery, she widened her eyes, slowly transforming her expression into one of joyful recognition. Before the night was over, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and eight senators, including John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, glided in, got photographed, maybe picked up an autographed copy of the book. Only Reid copped to having read it. Later, Clinton did a little stand-up. Rejected titles for the book: An Inconvenient Booth: Tales From Hunan Dynasty; The Audacity of Chuck Schumer. She got a few laughs and headed out the door.

Back upstairs, Schumer looked worn, but his quote machine was still churning. “I felt a real yearning”—his eyes brightened at the word—“I felt a real yearning and a passion to get my ideas out to help my country.” His party was wrapping up, and a few scattered fortune cookies remained. YOU WILL READ AND POSITIVELY LOVE POSITIVELY AMERICAN, THE NEW BOOK BY SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER, the fortune read. No mention of whether Hillary will clinch the nomination, though.

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