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The Senate took a pause from work Wednesday evening for a bit of bipartisan bonding inspired by Hollywood.
A quartet of stars — director Steven Spielberg, actor Daniel Day-Lewis, screenwriter-playwright Tony Kushner and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin — arrived at the Capitol to screen their film Lincoln for lawmakers from both parties and their family members. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., jointly issued the invitation to their colleagues.
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Reid, who first saw the film at a special White House screening Spielberg recently put on for President Obama and his guests, was instrumental in arranging a showing for his fellow senators and enlisted McConnell to co-sign the invitation. The Nevada senator, in fact, is such a fan that he already had seen Lincoln twice before Wednesday’s show. He called the Senate event “an opportunity for bipartisanship.”
According to The Hill’s Emily Goodin, the creative quartet joined the majority leader for a brief photo-op before the screening –Spielberg in a dark suit and tie looking slightly overwhelmed by the attention. Day-Lewis, in a pin-striped suit and pale blue tie, maintained a Lincoln-esque silence. That didn’t deter Senate aides from frantically snapping photos with their cell phones.
In brief remarks, Spielberg described himself as “very proud” to take part in the occasion.
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Coincidentally, their path through the Rotunda took them past the catalfalque — or coffin stand — that will be used for the upcoming memorial for the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii. It is the same catafalque on which Lincoln’s body reposed, and the group paused briefly beside it.
The singularity of the event was signified by the fact that Reid sought and received from the Senate Rules Committee a special dispensation to serve popcorn in the Congressional Auditorium, where food customarily is not allowed.
Lincoln might not be able to break the Senate’s partisan gridlock, but clearly Hollywood — like the 16th president — casts a long shadow.
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