Tuesday, October 30, 2007

They Weren't In On It

After years of being an amateur anthropologist studying the ways of Live Villagers In Their Native Habitat, I've concluded that the simplest explanation for their horror at the mighty Clenis was simply that they felt excluded from the party during his presidency.

From 1969 to 1993 there was almost uninterrupted Republican dominance of Washington. And by dominance I don't just mean control of the levers of power, but dominance of the social circle and the village customs. Carter was a brief aberration, and he was treated similarly as some out of town freak.

We've learned that the Villagers don't mind lies as long as they're in on them, don't mind criminal behavior as long as it's done by their pals, and don't mind jawdropping levels of corruption as long as everyone's getting along nicely while munching on quail at David Broder's place. They don't like outsiders, and the Clintons were outsiders.

Some more from Sally:

And then we have Sally Quinn, the self-appointed arbiter of Washington's social scene. Since the White House scandal story broke in mid-January, Quinn has gabbed on the networks and cable channels, passing judgment on the president and hissing at first lady Hillary Rodman Clinton.

"If you consider the life of Bill Clinton," she said on "60 Minutes," "whenever he leaves the White House, he's going to get on a plane, and where is he going to go?"

"What do you mean?" a baffled Mike Wallace asked.

"Well, he -- he doesn't even have a home," she sniffed. "I mean, when you think about it, he's homeless. I mean, they've lived in sort of government properties all their lives."

What Quinn really means is that from her elitist perch, President Clinton is poor white trash -- a homeless, rootless Bubba. No doubt this helps explains why he goes for women with big hair, and it allows Quinn to convince herself that he and Monica did unspeakable things in the Oval Office, even though there is as yet no proof.

But Quinn reveals her truly witchy ways when she talks about the first lady. She paints Hillary Clinton as a sad case, trapped in a lousy marriage, "floundering around in the last couple of years to try to find some project for herself."

Actually, it could be said that Sally Quinn has been floundering around for the last couple of decades, when she failed first as a journalist, then as a novelist, before emerging as a hostess in a Washington society that even she admits is in its death throes. Which brings us to a central question: Who appointed Quinn as the mouthpiece for the permanent Washington establishment, if there is such an animal? A peek into Quinn's motives reveals a hidden political agenda and the venom of a hostess scorned, and ultimately, an aging semi-journalist propped up by a cadre of media buddies, carping at the Clintons because they wouldn't kiss her ring.


All of this reporting and writing prepared Quinn for her true calling: being a hostess and party girl. "She would go to the opening of an envelope," says one socialite. She positioned herself as the Perle Mesta of the 1990s. She reveled in inviting the usual suspects in the political and media world to her Georgetown manse, then leaking gossip from the parties to reporters at the Post. It was a cozy relationship that depended on Quinn's ability to reel in big-name guests, especially the biggest of all, the first couple -- which brings us to the root of Sally's beef with Hillary.

According to society sources, Sally invited Hillary to a luncheon when the Clintons came to town in 1993. Sally stocked her guest list with her best buddies and prepared to usher the first lady into the capital's social whirl. Apparently, Hillary didn't accept. Miffed, Sally wrote a catty piece in the Post about Mrs. Clinton. Hillary made sure that Quinn rarely made it into the White House dinners or social events.

In return, Sally started talking trash about Hillary to her buddies, and her animus became a staple of the social scene. "There's just something about her that pisses people off," Quinn is quoted as saying in a New Yorker article about Hillary.