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.”