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Chris Matthews' 'Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero' Gets A-List Book Launch Party (PHOTOS)

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WASHINGTON -- The back room of the Hay Adams Hotel was the place to be on Wednesday night, as Washington A-listers turned out to toast Chris Matthews' new book, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero." The critically acclaimed biography seeks, in Matthews' words, to "find the human Jack [Kennedy] ... to try and understand him as a guy, not just a rich prince."

To the casual observer, the well-heeled, boisterous crowd in the room looked like an embodiment of the "political and media elite" reviled in certain corners of the political arena. But for the 200 or so partygoers, the room divided into two distinct groups.

The first group was made up of established, 50-plus political heavyweights, among them Supreme Court Justices Steven Breyer and Antonin Scalia, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), NBC's Andrea Mitchell and her husband, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, British Ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald, the Washington Post's Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn, journalist and author Bob Woodward, HuffPost's own Howard Fineman, MSNBC's morning stars Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, and more than a dozen Democratic House members, including the dean of the caucus, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Democratic National Committee chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Many of these guests had known each other for decades, and their banter with Matthews and his wife, Kathleen Matthews had the feeling of a family reunion.

The second group consisted of the ambitious young reporters who drive political coverage in Washington, including Luke Russert, Kelly O'Donnell and Ken Strickland from NBC, CNN's Brianna Keilar, Time magazine's Jay Newton Small, Real Clear Politics' Erin McPike, Slate's Dave Weigel and Politico's Patrick Gavin. Of the 50 or so younger guests, a few were hungry for a chance to appear on Matthews' nightly political talk show, "Hardball," and the presence of a couple of MSNBC bookers caused a buzz in the back half of the room. "I'm just so close to getting booked on 'Hardball,'" one young reporter said to me in a tone that bordered on lustful, "I can't leave this party yet."

As the party breezed on past 9 p.m. -- late, by Washington standards -- a couple of the older men were spotted chatting up young women in corners of the room, and plans were made for where the party should go next. A group of a dozen MSNBC staffers stopped in to the Hay Adams basement bar, Off The Record, but deeming it too crowded, they made their way across the street to P.J. Clarke's for a celebratory dinner.

SLIDESHOW: Photos from the party

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