“American Hustle”

“American Hustle”

Photo credit: Janet Donovan

“I’m just very grateful.  I’ve come to deny birthdays at this point,” said former Senator Larry Pressler on the occasion of his 76th year, “but I’m very happy this year because I’m kind of celebrating. I had a rough year and I had five surgeries in the last 15 months, but I’ve finally gotten done with all of that. The fella who took me over to Johns Hopkins and introduced me to my doctor is Bill Lambert and he’s here tonight. He more or less saved my life I think.  People are here tonight from each aspect of my life. I know everybody here. You don’t know each other so that’s kind of a strange party but I’m glad you’ve all come to know each other.”  The party was held at the very elegant home of Chang Turkmani and her husband Salal which has a bit of history – the first being that Adlai Stevenson II (US Ambassador to the UN & Presidential candidate) lived here and later James Baker III, Chief of Staff to President Ronald Reagan.

Senator Larry Pressler

Pressler served in the US Senate for 18 years (3 terms) and was the first Vietnam veteran elected to the US Senate. While in the Senate, he served as Chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committees. He was also an active member of the Foreign Relations Committee. He was the principle author of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and of the “Pressler Amendment,” which limited foreign countries from using USA to develop nuclear weaponry. Prior to his election to the  Senate, he served two terms as a member of the US House of Representatives from 1975-1979. He was an announced candidate for the presidency in 1980 and drew national fame and praise for flatly turning down a bribe on tape in the ABSCAM scandal, which takes us to the fun part where Larry tells a sting bribery group to basically shove it!

Ted Proxmire, Harriet Pressler, Larry Pressler and Kelly Proxmire

“The movie American Hustle seems to be getting all the top movie awards this year,” he wrote in HuffPost in February of 2014. “It is a very timely reminder of the almost-forgotten Abscam scandal that sent several members of Congress and one US Senator to jail. And even more forgotten is the small role I played in turning down a bribe in the Abscam matter. Nobody in the movie turns the bribe down, so I’ve been doubly forgotten! Thus in writing this I feel a little bit like the little boy in class after the teacher scolds everyone for being naughty who runs up and says, ‘But I was a good boy!’ American Hustle reminds us of how dominant corrupt money has become in Washington, DC.  I am now embarked on an Independent campaign for the US Senate based on reform, a low-budget campaign and a belief that the poisonous partisan rift between Republicans and Democrats in Washington is largely caused by big corrupt money.”

Rhoda Septillici, Robert Maroney, Larry Pressler, Chang Turkmani

Larry Pressler and Bill Lambert

Larry was praised as a man who has shown friendship, is a statesman and an intellect in a town not always known for its kindness. He has recently started a small foundation for Vietnam Veterans.  “I’m not sure exactly what it’s going to do yet, but one of the things is to do some counseling.”  He then introduced some of his veteran friends.

The hostess is not only is a lawyer, but a legendary cook whose culinary skills showed up in the form of a Lebanese cuisine.  The fabulous kitchen island was an addition to the house that every decorator needs to replicate.

“I didn’t intend to make this into a book sale party, but I’ve got three of my books for sale. I bought them off of Amazon, but they’ve made it to the table back there. You don’t have to buy them, but if you want one of them they are between 10 and 25 dollars, and they are guaranteed to put you to sleep.”  So Larry!

Happy Birthday Larry

A look back at “American Hustle.”