City Desk

Sally Quinn: The People Don’t Elect Presidents. Georgetown Does!


Heads must roll at the Washington Post's Style section. Specifically, editors. After all, these people are paid to show some news judgment, and in today's edition of the paper, Style's editors showed absolutely none.

They need to account for why they placed Sally Quinn's news-breaking, conventional wisdom-blasting column deep within the Style pages. Not since the Post buried Walter Pincus' reporting about the Bush administration's flaky case for war against Iraq has the paper so botched a news-placement decision.

Where to begin with Quinn's amazing column? How many bombshells can a single columnist pack in one piece of writing?

This instaclassic piece is titled "Administrations should befriend the locals—they'll need them in hard times," and it falls under the banner of Quinn's relatively new column, "The Party." The piece sheds new light on just how influential Washington's permaclass has been throughout modern history. It's a towering refutation of the hard work of so many hard-working historians, to the point that some kind of conference must be convened before Valentine's Day. Let's just look at a few of the revelations in capsule format.

*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."

Huh. So let's nail the logic here. Quinn seems to be suggesting that if the Nixon people had just come out and partied a bit, they could have gotten some valuable assistance from the establishment. But what could the establishment have done? Tell Woodward and Bernstein to take a break? Serve up some hors d'oeuvres?

Asked that question via e-mail, Quinn responded: "Nixon rejected many of his potential supporters like barry goldwater. I'm not sure all the republicans would have told him to resign and turned so totally against him if he had been more sympathetic."

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  1. #1

    Another breathtaking quote from La Quinn:

    "Washingtonians are open and willing to invite newcomers and make them part of their lives. If they can't do that, there is automatically a distance that is created so that if -- no, make that when -- the administration gets into trouble, there is too little sympathy or support."

    It would be interesting to know how many people Quinn actually considers "Washingtonians." Her Georgetown neighbors? Ex-congressmen turned lobbyists? Ex-officials getting rich as consultants? Is she talking about as many as 95 people? Sounds like she's miffed that the President of the United States, elected to serve all Americans, has better things to do than show up at her dinner parties. And this is what the Washington Post has become.

  2. #2

    This was awesome, but not quite so awesome as the post-9/11 hysteria column that advocated that we all go out and buy gas masks and encase our homes in plastic...never mind that we'd, y'know, suffocate. Not that was a hoot.

    Amusement aside, Sally Quinn is a snooty elitist twit who seems to advocate that presidents hobnob with high society, instead of actually RUNNING THE COUNTRY.

  3. #3

    To be fair to Sally Quinn, she's probably right: the Washington elite doesn't care whether a politican knows what they're doing, they care whether a politican is One Of Us or not. Being totally incompetent or actively sociopathic isn't an offense if you're One Of Us, but if you're not part of the club every element of your personality is proof that you're unqualified to lead.

    Quinn's problem is that she thinks of this as a good thing, not as a deadly threat to democracy.

  4. #4

    Before there was " a lewinsky" there were "Sally Quinns"!

    Sadly despite a lifetime of clawing her way up from her knees Quinn has never learned that sometimes the better part of class or grace is knowing when to leave.

    Note to Sally - The photo accompanying the video piece last week was really telling. Without the benfit of airbrushing you look really haggard and bad. Unfortunatley all your social climbing and CV revision did not provide you with well bred bone structure, cheekbones or a jaw line. The hair is whorrific! Perhaps you need to give it all a rest. You know things might go a little better for you if you are not still trying to steal center stage when Ben passes and the knives come out.

    Bravo to the Obamas (oh, and the Bushes, and the Clintons, and the Reagans, and the Carters, and ... well just about everybody) for not buying into Quinn's self aggrandizement.

  5. #5

    Even odds she knows who her market is and is amoral enough to present it in a way that her market can read it as a good thing.

  6. #6

    The running dossier kept by the CDC on Quinn must be a real barn burner.
    She is a rascist and a fascist, a low rent Eva Peron, po'ed because she can't get an invite.

  7. #7

    Quinn should ge grateful you useed the air brushed photo.

  8. #8

    Sally Quinn's snobbishness harkens back to the days of the gentry. Play with us or face the risk of being abandoned. What a fool this woman is. If her husband was not Ben Bradlee would anyone be willing to kiss her butt?

    Don't think so.

  9. #9

    Ben Bradlee traded what could have been his legacy to become the butt of a raunchy locker room joke.
    She must have had something on him.

  10. #10

    Quinn is a douchebag.

    BTY - The House of Representatives has the sole power of impeaching, while the United States Senate has the sole power to try all impeachments.

  11. #11

    Isn't Ben ready for a new trophy?

    I'm a psychologist, and although it's a gray area to evaluate people you have never met--or hope to meet--I know narcissistic entitlement when I see it.

  12. #12

    I think she's bitter that she'll never be First Lady.

  13. #13

    Ms Quinn has a pre-Copernican view of the universe. It all revolves around her. Just ask. She'll explain.

    But I'm sure the Obama's won't make the same mistake as previous White House failures. Sally will get her invite to a State Dinner. Right after the Salahis. And Carlos that party planner guy. Also.

  14. #14

    Goodness gracious, such outrage in the comments above. You haven't been around this city long enough. "How Washington works" - a tireless subject. One could learn a lot by reading Sally Quinn's column.

  15. #15

    This is the second failure of two attempts by women at the Washington Post to step into Katherine Graham's shoes socially. First, the salons. Now, this.

    I especially like the Watergate analysis. If only Dick Nixon had used more of that Nixon charm on the Georgetown social scene.

    Of course, the real danger is that there is a guy in the Oval Office who might actually believe the stuff about Carter. Obama was drifting into the danger zone for pulling a primary challenger, but in his case because he neglected the policy over the social aspects of the job.

    1968, 1976, 1980, and 1992 were election years where incumbents experienced primary challenges and lost the general. No modern incumbent has survived a general after a primary challenge.

  16. #16

    Sally's column in the 2008 election where she dumped on Sara Palin earned her the name "Madam Snobobama" in a Maryland newspaper. But it could be she writes such tawdry junk just to get the attention that she certainly is getting. Get it? The snob society needs all the good PR it can get and Sally is out there hustling!

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