Ringside Seat: D.C. Rager

So if you want to get all the scuttlebutt from the dinner, you'll have to check in with Vanity Fair or CNN. But chances are you won't miss much if you don't bother. There hasn't been an interesting Correspondents' Dinner since Stephen Colbert ridiculed the press in 2006, saying, "Here's how it works. The President makes decisions. He's the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spellcheck and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration? You know, fiction!" Awkward chuckles ensued.


A lesson was learned, and in subsequent years the jokes have been just biting enough to be moderately funny without genuinely indicting anyone's sense of themselves. And as one of the few times during the year when everyone can get together, put on tuxedos, and pretend that deep down they respect each other, the Correspondents' Dinner does serve an important function. It convinces the powerful that maybe we can all get along after all. And that if they can just work their way over to that side of the room, Scarlett Johansson will find their small-talk utterly fascinating, look deeply into their eyes, and say, "Next time you're in L.A., we should get together."

So They Say

"There were numerous Republicans that voted against the sequestration because we knew all of these calamities were in the future. And so it reminds me of the Shakespeare line, ‘Thou protestest too much.’"

Representative Michele Bachmann, quoting Shakespeare. Sort of.


Daily Meme: Picked the Wrong Week to Delay Planes

  • One of sequestration's victims was timely air travel, which happens to be one of the only things chopped off the federal budget that affects our politicians and their wealthiest constituents. 
  • One blogger, after waiting hours and hours for his flight to take off, wrote, "All I could think about was the political craftiness of the Obama Administration. This must have been exactly what they imagined as they were choosing which programs to cut, knowing full well that the sequester was inevitable."
  • As Alex Pareene puts it, "Do you know who takes weekday shuttle flights between Washington and New York? People who think they are too important for the train, let alone the bus. People Congress listens to. (People Congress is, also.) Members of Congress are more likely to fly commercial than attend school on an Indian reservation. Their rich constituents, the only ones they listen to, are more likely to fly often than their constituents who, say, rely on federal housing vouchers."
  • But if there's one thing the well-off and powerful can't stand, it's dealing with the same cuts that they sell as gospel to the poor. The Senate and the House passed a law to give the Federal Aviation Administration up to $253 million to make sure they don't have to wait for any damn planes anymore!
  • Or, as Brian Beutler sums it up, "the Senate proved it can fix big problems for real Americans—so long as they’re rich, or relatively rich, or fly for business or what have you. Great if you fly. Bad, bad news if you’re on Head Start or rely on Meals on Wheels or otherwise aren’t a Priority Pass holder."
  • Noam Scheiber wishes the Democrats hadn't gone along with it: "If Democrats had held firm, they wouldn’t just have won this particular sequester skirmish. They may well have forced the GOP to junk the entire godforsaken sequester itself."
  • The sequester, mind you, that's just going to get worse: "In coming months, it will spread on a much larger scale. The cuts will be bigger and they'll affect more people. Although still decentralized and localized, largely affecting the poor, and often in the form of furloughs and pay cuts rather than layoffs, the sheer scale of the coming cuts may make them far more apparent."
  • And so, as Congress resumes its hitch-free flights, sequester cuts will continue to wreak havoc on the lives of those who can't afford to pressure legislators to make them a top priority.


What We're Writing

  • Jeff Saginor shines a flashlight on data brokers, who know a lot more about you than you'd think.
  • E.J. Graff opines on the Boy Scouts, who seem determined to stay behind the times, evermore.

What We're Reading

  • Andrew Cohen calls the SEC's plans to out corporations' political causes "the most revelatory story of the week."
  • Amy Sullivan explains how the American Dream got downsized, and how middle-class Americans are more worried about keeping what they have than aspiring to more.
  • Amy Davidson reminds us that all of our decisions on Syria will be shadowed by Iraq's ghosts—a fact we should acknowledge.
  • Alex Seitz-Wald announces that Glenn Beck is back. Be afraid. Unless you are Jon Stewart, and then you can rejoice.
  • The man whose Mercedes was carjacked by the Tsarnaev brothers recounts those terrifying 90 minutes to the Boston Globe.
  • Josh Barro offers a quick fact check: No, there is no such thing as a Republican health policy agenda right now. 

Poll of the Day

Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey, the Republican senator who co-sponsored last week's dearly departed background-check amendment, had his approval ratings rocket to record highs this week. Forty-eight percent of his constituents now approve of his performance in D.C., and 54 percent credit his work on guns for their change of heart. According to the findings in this Quinnipiac poll, 85 percent of Pennsylvania voters approve of tougher background checks.