Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ruth “Let us sip chardonnay!” Marcus Defends Nation’s Besotted Capital

Ruth Marcus
Washingtonians live different than the rest of us, as this blog has documented. It’s an insular world happy to cocktail among themselves, because they’re the only ones who matter anyway. Think I exaggerate? Just listen to the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus:
I'll probably regret this, but here goes: I write today in defense of [Washington’s] coziness. My text is Mark Leibovich's This Town, his delicious indictment of inside-the-Beltway incestuousness in its various manifestations.
Washington's [metric] is power, a measure that coexists uneasily with democracy and its noble aspirations.
Comment: Marcus is claiming for her town both democracy and nobility.
the coziness that Leibovich condemns is not as nefarious or as corrupting as he would have you believe. Washington is a better place, populated by more people dedicated to public service and public policy. . .
Comment: Oh, not so “nefarious or as corrupting”? How reassuring. But “a better place”--elitist talk--“dedicated to public service and public policy”? These are phrases meant to reassure a nervous power- and money-based Washington elite. They certainly don’t reassure us; we know better.
Leibovich decries [coziness] between journalists and government officials, its iconic apogee [a] Georgetown party [hosted] by the [Washington Post’s] Ben Bradlee/Sally Quinn [power couple.] I've spent far more evenings serving chicken fingers in Bethesda than sipping chardonnay in Georgetown.
Comment: First, Marcus slips in the fact she lives in Bethesda, one of Washington’s wealthiest suburbs. Second, nobody actually spends more time at Georgetown parties than eating (and sipping chardonnay) at small dinners, restaurants, or at home, so “straw man” = weak argument.
developing relationships of trust and confidence with sources ends up benefiting readers, not harming them. Off-the-record conversations offer insights that ambush interviews deny. You get a sense of the complexities of governmental decision-making. You get a glimpse of an officeholder's intellect and mindset. You learn who to trust, and who to avoid.
Comment: “ambush interviews”? Marcus is slandering the work of true reporters such as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, workers who gave the Washington Post the high reputation off of which Marcus now trades. She praises “the complexities of government decision-making”--which to me sound like a fancy excuse for Washington’s getting nothing done. And Marcus adds that she and her friends, over sips of chardonnay, look for officeholders of high “intellect” and sound “mindset”--fellow liberals one can “trust,” as well as conservatives one should “avoid.”
We journalists could, in theory, live . . . quarantined from casual contact with the people we cover, insisting that our children go to separate, journalist-only schools.
Comment: Thank you, Marcus, for that tidbit. I wouldn’t otherwise have suspected how important it was for journalists and the official elite to send their children to the same (exclusive) schools. The town’s more incestuous than even I thought.
Obama famously banned lobbyists from his administration. . . but guess what? Obama could have benefited from more lobbyists -- that is to say, more expertise about how Washington works -- not fewer.
Comment: Double, triple groan! A crass defense of Washington’s revolving door, something folks outside the beltway uniformly detest. So amazing how brazen Marcus is in defending Washington corruption.
people. . . go into government because that is where they truly want to spend their time and talent; the private sector pays tuition bills.
Comment: Translation--one needs the revolving door, alternation between public office and K Street lobbying, to pay the extraordinary but obligatory Harvard or Dartmouth tuitions the elite’s children must have. This is bogus. Government salaries are high enough, especially with both spouses working, to pay any tuition, but Washington’s elite actually live much larger, filling out their Michelin 3-star restaurant cards, owning summer homes in Tuscany, and wintering in Aspen, St. Moritz, or St. Barts.
Leibovich complains that Washington, "far from being hopelessly divided, is in fact hopelessly interconnected." But . . . this town -- suffers less from a surfeit of coziness than from a yawning deficit thereof.
 Comment: Gee folks, they aren’t incestuous enough yet?!


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