James Baker on Espionage, World Bank’s Badre: D.C. Scene

Bertrand Badre, managing director and chief financial officer of the World Bank, and Representative Carolyn Maloney, New York Democrat, dined last night at the French-American Cultural Foundation’s 15th anniversary gala.

Badre, who said he’s the most senior Frenchman to serve at the bank, described French and Americans as an old couple. “We’ve had our highs and lows but we’ve never been at war.”

Maloney, who studied French in high school and college, said that because so many of her constituents have been Latinos, “whenever I try to speak French, Spanish comes out.”

She said her goal is to have a Parisian museum host an exhibition of art from the Whitney Museum of American Art, which is in her district.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre hosted the dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel in honor of Leonard Silverstein, the foundation’s president.

Guests dined on duck foie gras, Maine lobster, and farm lamb prepared by Eric Briffard, executive chef of the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris. Louis Roederer provided the Cristal.

James Baker

On Tuesday night at the Kennedy Center James Baker received the Making Cancer History Award from the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, where he was treated for prostate cancer.

Baker said European leaders shouldn’t be surprised by allegations of American espionage. “We couldn’t find a hotel in Paris that wasn’t bugged,” he said about his time as secretary of state under President George H.W. Bush.

“You don’t lose a damn thing by talking to people,” he said in response to a question about negotiations with Iran. “I’m not in favor of any more wars in the Middle East. We’ve had enough of those for a while.”

Over short ribs and Texas pecan pie, Baker had the company of fellow Texan Randall Stephenson, the chairman and president of AT&T Inc., Henry Kissinger, and David Rubenstein, co-founder of the Carlyle Group.

Democratic Senators Thomas Harkin of Iowa, Jay Rockefeller and Joseph Manchin of West Virginia attended, as did Representative Michael McCaul, the Texas Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

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