At Columbia University, where he majored in history, he discovered National Review—“Jonah Goldberg: he’s really crucial to me”—and his future employer, the Standard. – Matthew Continetti speaking to AFF Doublethink
Over at the AIPAC student newspaper that calls itself the Free Beacon, combat journalist, adoring cunnilographer™ of Sarah Palin, and, most importantly, marrier of Bill Kristol’s daughter Matthew Continetti trains and then unloads both of his pop-guns (pew! pew! pew!) on important political zeitgeist chronicler
Politico The Hill Foreign Policy The Economist Vogue magazine for publishing a fluffed-up story about a political/media power couple. What the hell, Vogue? When did you guys get all fashiony name-brand droppy and glitz and glam? Five years of living under the sling-back Louboutin spiky iron heel of the Obama administration has changed you, man. Seriously.
So who is annoying Matt by being all arriviste and thereby making blood shoot out of Sally Quinn’s eyes now? Andrea Mitchell and Alan Greenspan? Campbell Brown and Dan Senor? Jay Carney and Claire Shipman? Nope, yesterday’s news. Try MSNBC’s Alex Wagner and chef Sam Kass – who makes Michelle Obama’s Muslim kale & socialism smoothies – who are profiled as a couple in an article written by Jacob Weisberg . Let’s get on with the gory details the likes of which must undoubtedly puzzle the readers of Vogue in much the same way that toothbrush ads confuse US Weekly magazine
readers picture look-atters.
The bar where Kass and Wagner had drinks was Monkey Bar, in midtown Manhattan, where you can pair a $17 glass of Sauvignon Blanc with a $26 organic chicken paillard. They are planning a summer wedding.
The pages of Democratic donor Anna Wintour’s magazine provide him [Weisberg] sturdy journalistic ground. Unlike his Times review, or indeed the book in the Times he was reviewing, Weisberg in Vogue actually had access to his subjects. And such access: a perfume of casual friendliness, of smarmy knowingness, sticks to these glossy pages, making them indistinguishable from an ad for Quelques Flueres. Weisberg likes these people. He finds them intelligent, accomplished, sophisticated, current, fashionable, tasteful, humble. “I’ve been a guest several times” on Wagner’s show, he tells us in an aside, but it’s not like he wants to be invited back or anything. “On good days, the conversation just clicks.” Conversation does click when no one disagrees, when no one is disagreeable. Click is a good word to describe the old “Now,” where five liberals sat around a table attempting to out-snark each other.
Class war! Oh, wait, this is a conservative attacking rich people so… elitists!
Click may be a good word for the show, but “clique” is a better one for the world described in Vogue. On the first read the Weisberg piece is notable for its status details: the little things, the style of life of bobo liberals that drives conservatives crazy. I am referring here to the meal Weisberg shares with the couple in Kass’s sure-to-be-expensive Logan Circle townhouse: “butterflied roast chicken with tarragon and preserved lemons, faro risotto with wild mushrooms and leeks, and a green salad with buttermilk dressing” served with a Barbaresco made by friends in Italy. I am referring to Kass’s “hand-forged Carter Cutlery knives, which are produced by a Japanese-trained bladesmith in Oregon.” To the Hermès coat, Nili Lotan sweater, 7 for All Mankind jeans, Hunter + Rag & Bone boots, M Missoni dress, and Prada flats that Wagner wears at various moments in the piece. To the names checked by Weisberg to establish the fact that Wagner is with it, au courant, hip, cutting edge: This Town author Mark Leibovich, Ezra Klein, Jonathan Franzen, Frank Ocean, the Tanlines, and New York restaurants Blue Hill, Carbone, Franny’s, and Vinegar Hill House.
You get the idea. It’s almost as if Wiesberg was specifically writing for people willing to pay cash money for a magazine where about 90% of the pages are dedicated to ads for high-end brands along with editorial content full of name-dropping and what it is like to eat at fancy restaurants where, if you have to ask how much the poached quail egg served on a single split truffle-roasted fava bean costs, you can’t afford it. Weird, right? I know that I buy Vogue for the fine fiction and the photoshopping, but that’s just me. But is it the accoutrements of the high life that are getting Continetti’s man-spanx in a twist? Doubtful.
Whatever emotions the article provokes, wherever one stands on the political spectrum, upon closer examination Weisberg’s text becomes a discomfiting ethnography of contemporary meritocracy, an acid test of how power is transacted in America today. Our politicians and celebrities, Democrat and Republican, paint an ideal picture of life where one’s success depends on hard work and initiative bolstered by community; where all Americans begin the race of life on an equal footing, and those who start off disadvantaged should be helped by some agency—whether in government or the private sector—until the contest is a fair one.
It is not every day that an article in Vogue magazine exposes the shaky foundations of democracy. But as I read “The Talk of the Town” for the second time I could not help noticing how these attractive, talented, up-and-coming thirty-somethings relied, again and again, on personal connections to get where they are today.