I am fascinated by two recent tweets from Katie Couric. The talk show host recently visited Gracie Mansion in New York City, where mayor-elect Bill de Blasio will live beginning Jan. 1. Couric likes de Blasio, and is eager for him to start his job. One tweet from Gracie Mansion showed Couric sitting atop a four-poster bed, one hand resting on the quilt-cover, the other clutching a wine glass. She is dressed in black, her hair and makeup are perfect, and her crossed legs display a striking pair of red pumps. “Mayor de Blasio will sleep here!” she wrote. A minute later Couric tweeted a second photo, in which she assumed the same pose atop a porcelain freestanding bathtub, surrounded on three sides by marble wainscoting, one of her haute pumps resting on a mosaic floor. “… And bathe here!” she wrote excitedly. Maybe you had to be there.
The White House’s newest staffer is John Podesta, the 64-year-old founder of the Center for American Progress (CAP), the head of President Obama’s 2008 transition team, a former chief of staff to President Clinton, and a former lobbyist and cofounder, with his brother Tony, of the Podesta Group. You know: an outsider.
It was a sunny day in Beijing on Thursday—refreshingly sunny, to be more precise—when Vice President Joe Biden met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. I know this because I have read the pool report of the occasion, a pithy and practically content-free piece of journalism that is nevertheless one of the more entertaining things to enter my inbox in recent days. The pool report confirms the lingering suspicion—if it hasn’t been confirmed a million times already—that the line between journalism and Democratic Party cheerleading has more than faded. It has become invisible.
When Thanksgiving transitioned from a Puritan-influenced feast of civic gratitude into a four-day festival of consumption is not entirely clear. But that is where we are today: at a place in our proverbial and increasingly depressing “national story” where the events of the holiday itself are overshadowed by the rituals associated with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. That the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend has so far been officially untouched by the dark arts of marketing and branding can be attributed to a somewhat anachronistic respect for religion, or to a failure of creativity. Let me therefore suggest an appropriate nickname and activity. Starting this year, let’s all celebrate Binge Sunday.
The timing of a story by the campaign finance reporters of the New York Times, and its placement in the paper’s national edition, is fraught with meaning. Articles in which the totemic names “Koch” or “Adelson” appear have a habit of being published in the prime time of an election cycle, and share the uncanny ability to float, bubble-like, to the front-page. Stories that deal with the liberal moneymen who finance the Democratic Party and its affiliates, by contrast, tend to appear after the fact or when nobody is looking, and, like ballast, fall to the back of the A section, obscured by ads for Tiffany’s, Burberry, and Zegna. I wonder why.
Of all the analogies being drawn between the calamitous rollout of Obamacare and other government muck-ups throughout history, one deserves a closer look. What’s happening to Obamacare right now isn’t this president’s Iraq war, or his Hurricane Katrina, or his Lewinsky moment. It’s his Iran-contra scandal: a complicated and controversial policy dispute that involves deception, a hostile Congress, and the bludgeoning of presidential credibility. Iran-contra marked the end of the Reagan Revolution, and it’s not hard to see how the implementation of Obamacare might mark the end of the Obama Revolution as well. A boy can dream.
Something tells me the president is not a regular reader of the New Criterion. But perhaps, in between his regular servings of Jonathan Chait, Ezra Klein, and Josh Barro, he snuck a peek at the October issue of the conservative arts magazine. He might have scanned an essay by Harvey Mansfield, “Machiavelli’s Enterprise,” on the legacy of the first modern philosopher. It’s a legacy that very much includes the president.
Two recent events organized by the investment bank Goldman Sachs featured a special guest. Goldman arranged to have one of the most successful investors in the world make remarks at last week’s AIMS Alternative Investment Conference in Chicago. And at this week’s Builders and Innovators Summit in Marana, Ariz., the same guest responded to questions from Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman’s chair and CEO. I hope the audience took notes.
Last night the Center for American Progress celebrated its tenth anniversary with a “Progressive Party” at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium on the National Mall. Don’t feel left out: I wasn’t invited either.
Looking for a distraction from the government shutdown and debt ceiling debate? I urge you to read Vanity Fair’s latest advertisement for “The New Establishment,” a list of “50 Titans Disrupting Media, Technology, and Culture,” the century-old magazine’s annual mash-note to the rich and powerful and self-satisfied. These disrupters innovate technologies, set the trends, define the limits of acceptable conversation in culture and politics and society, and pour money into the network of liberal foundations and Democratic campaigns around which our world is increasingly organized. They are the winners in the cognitive lottery that is the New Economy, the men and women creating and shaping, by accident and by design, the “New Feudalism” described so well by Joel Kotkin in The Daily Beast. It’s good to know their names.