I Wouldn't Throw That Rock

Armando is all Kossack-gone-wild on this article detailing The Atlantic's move to DC, and DC's efforts to be more intellectual. He mocks the district for being disconnected from reality (more than anywhere else in the world, apparently), for having a dull-as-dirt press corps, and for generally not being the cosmopolitan culture capital that the piece portrays it as.


As disconnected as DC might be, at least there are Republicans there, by which I mean to imply no place can be more disconnected from reality than the lefty blogosphere (and all points go for the righty libertarian-o-sphere, just swap in the appropriate names and theories). I'm serious about this, and I include my site in the calculus, but remember our pre-election triumphalism? Remember how Kos and MyDD and, for that matter, me, have called each of the last two elections? Ever taken a look in our comment threads? Ever noticed the massive proportion of readers certain the election fell through thievery and the war was launched wholly and solely for a sip of Iraqi crude? Washington's got its faults, true, but we're hardly justified in critiquing others for being disconnected from the American consensus, or even reality (whatever that may mean).

And Armando should have also read the piece closer -- it was pretty deprecating towards DC, and started out by admitting that the Atlantic's move was motivated by economic considerations, a desire to consolidate the magazine. But beyond that, it's mostly correct. DC suffers from many maladies, not least a tendency to gravitate towards certain conclusions (for that matter, so do the blogs, and partisans in general). But it is a place where folks like to think ideas matter, hence the multiplicity of think tanks churning out endless reports on stunningly specific topics. The ideas may suck and the people may not matter, but they are nevertheless under the shared delusion that that's not so, which is more than I can say for most other places.

Armando also nails the article for this graf (emphasis his):

Louis Menand, the New Yorker writer and Harvard literature professor, who has also worked in Washington, said that while the capital has "this reputation of being wonky and boring," this can be appealing for practitioners of ideas. Washington journalists especially "become suddenly interesting in a way they might not be in New York," where they are competing with artists, actors, restaurateurs, advertising executives and Wall Street moguls for prestige, he said.

But that's true, actually. I know my efforts to compete with the blogosphere's wonkier set have made my writing significantly better, or at least more informative. When I started judging my work according to a more fact-laden metric, I had to up my quality accordingly, and I think you guys have benefitted from it (i.e, the health care series). Were I still measuring myself by late night dorm conversations, you can bet I wouldn't be forcing myself to read on oil depletion and Germany's sickness funds.