Reading the New York Times’ report on the defenestration of the paper’s executive editor, Jill Abramson, and the coronation, at a hastily arranged meeting Wednesday, of her replacement Dean Baquet, I could not escape the feeling that the Soviet press must have covered the comings and goings of Politburo members in much the same way.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has named its collection of used clothes—a sort of consignment shop one must pay to enter and where nothing is for sale—after Anna Wintour. A trustee of the Met since 1999, the editor of Vogue, artistic director of Condé Nast, and inspiration for The Devil Wears Prada has over the years raised some $125 million for the museum. Earlier this week, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Anna Wintour Costume Center, Michelle Obama delivered a speech. Never have I read one quite like it.
Fitting, I thought, when I saw Air Force One returning to Andrews Air Force Base in the rain the other day. The weather had not only assumed the character of President Obama’s demeanor, it had become a physical representation of the sentiments inside his administration, inside Democratic circles in Washington. Those sentiments are dark, foreboding, cloudy, and gloomy. The president’s foreign policy is under attack, his agenda is stalled in Congress, and his signature program remains unpopular. A second repudiation of Obama, a second shellacking, may be at hand.
“To see what is in front of one’s nose,” George Orwell famously wrote, “needs a constant struggle.” In front of my nose as I write this is a copy of last Sunday’s New York Times. I have opened it to the business section. Below the fold is one of many Times articles on Thomas Piketty, the French economist and author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which argues that America has entered a second Gilded Age of vast inequality, inherited fortunes, and oligarchic politics, where the shape of public discourse and public policy is determined by a wealthy few.
Hillary Clinton may end up deciding she wants to spend the 935 days until election 2016 making corporate speeches and spoiling her grandchild. Recent events have exposed weaknesses in Clinton’s supposedly impregnable armor, gaps through which a Democratic or Republican challenger could damage, perhaps even defeat her. The bad headlines to which she has been subjected are enough to make anyone—anyone who isn’t a Clinton—think twice about running for president.
“I see lobbying,” Tony Podesta has said, “as getting information in the hands of people who are making decisions so they can make more informed decisions.” Last week the information Tony Podesta was giving was the divorce complaint he had filed in D.C. Court against his wife Heather. The hands receiving the information were those of a gossip columnist for the Washington Post, who made the “informed decision” to report on it. Later in the day Heather, who is also a lobbyist, passed the text of her counter-suit to the Post. It published a follow-up.
The communications giant Comcast announced in February that it would buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion, creating the largest cable provider in America, with more than 33 million customers. That is about one third of the U.S. cable and satellite television market. FCC approval is required for the merger to go into effect. Critics of the deal say it would lessen competition and lead to even shoddier customer service. They are probably right, as all of us will soon find out, because there is little chance the merger will be stopped. Comcast, Time Warner, and their political fixers have spent years preparing for this moment—by buying off the Democratic Party.
Another man might have assumed, correctly, that launching a campaign of insult and insinuation against two billionaires would result in renewed attention to his own finances. Not Harry Reid. The Senate Democratic leader since 2005, and the Senate majority leader since 2007, is not one to reflect before speaking. His mouth runs far ahead of his brain.
Some lies just won’t go away. In February the Washington Post published an article with the following headline: “Why There’s No Democratic Version of the Koch Brothers’ Organization.” It was the umpteenth attempt to explain, in a particularly simplistic manner, how the millionaires and billionaires who donate money to the Democratic Party are nothing, absolutely nothing, like those meanie cancer research philanthropists Charles and David Koch.
So long have I waited for the glass ceiling to be shattered, for the barrier to be breached, for the blessed moment to arrive. I had thought that the day that begins with a woman in the Oval Office, with more than 50 percent of our population feeling truly represented, was a day long in coming. I had thought 2008 would be the year we made history, with Hillary Clinton coming so close to the Democratic nomination, with Sarah Palin becoming the first woman on the Republican ticket.