Reading Eric Wemple's post on Sally Quinn's new column in the Washington Post, I thought he must be engaging in some kind of complicated joke. But no, Quinn really does think that the key to a successful presidency is hanging out with the D.C. crowd. (Admittedly, she also thinks that Avatar is "our cultural bellwether.") She writes that "I'm only being partly facetious when I suggest that there should be some sort of in-house list where members of the administration (any administration!) are designated to go out a certain amount, in exactly the same way they make the rounds on Sunday talk shows." Er, indeed. Wemple examines her historical revisionism:
*What We Thought We Knew About the Clinton Impeachment: The president abused his power, abused his family, abused the public trust, lied, acted like a cocky douchebag—all in a highly charged partisan environment. So the Senate launched impeachment proceedings.
What We Now Know, Thanks to Sally Quinn: "When the Monica Lewinsky affair turned into a debacle, during his second term, Clinton was impeached partly because of the ill will toward him in the city. After that, the Clintons went underground and very few from the administration were seen out and about."
*What We Thought We Knew About the Fall of Jimmy Carter: Fuel shortages, a hostage crisis in Iran, Soviets invading places, sputtering economy, tentative leadership from the White House—all those things authored Ted Kennedy's primary challenge and, ultimately, the election of Ronald Reagan.
What We Now Know, Thanks to Sally Quinn: "When Jimmy Carter arrived in Washington, he and Rosalynn and many of their advisers were decidedly not interested in the locals and made it known. That chill was such a mistake that Teddy Kennedy felt free to challenge Carter, which doomed Carter's reelection."
*What We Thought We Knew About the Fall of Richard Nixon: The guy was a paranoid control freak who couldn't stop himself.
What We Now Know, Thanks to Sally Quinn: "When Watergate broke, the Nixon administration, besieged, went underground, sensing that they had no support. Everybody was out to get them, including fellow Republicans. They never quite understood, nor has any other administration, that when things go badly—and they always go badly—you're going to need all the friends you can get."
That Quinn is being paid by the rather troubled Post to write this sort of dreck is a bum-out. That it actually reflects the view of a certain segment of political society is even more depressing. Interestingly enough, it's rather easy to prove Quinn's analysis wrong simply by noting that most members of Congress don't live full-time in the District anymore; they commute back to their districts at almost every opportunity. So it's not like they're really hitting the weekend party circuit all that often, either. The column would at least be provocative (ugh) if Quinn's complaints were new, but they're not -- she said the same things about Bill Clinton when he was impeached, and was appropriately savaged for it then as well.
-- Tim Fernholz