In today’s “Styles” section, the Times argues that it is not the implied danger, or even just the obvious delusions, of Michaele and Tareq Salahi crashing the state dinner that is offending Washington society types: It is the breach of decorum. “Essentially, the couple used the mixed martial arts approach to upward mobility in a town that still cherishes the Marquess of Queensberry rules,” muses writer David Segal. “And it looks like the town will be spluttering about it for quite some time.” Segal then goes on to interview a bunch of self-serious people who hang photos of themselves with politicians on their walls, who (preposterously) seem to be actually offended by the social faux pas of a pair of lying serial social climbers whose goal in life is to be on a mid-level reality-TV show. Let’s walk through this.
Claim: “Any number of social strategies that succeed elsewhere will fail catastrophically here. Like feigned closeness.”
Um, how many times have you heard a politician refer to another politician, even one across the aisle that they probably barely know, as “my friend” or “my good friend”? Trust us, when Governor Paterson refers to his “friend” Barack Obama, that word basically becomes meaningless.
Claim: “When Ms. Salahi sidled up to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., she was faking a friendship she didn’t have.”
People walk up and ask for pictures with celebrity politicians all the time at events, or are snapped chatting with them in a way that makes them appear close. You think Intel Chris is tight with George Pataki in real life?
Claim: “In Washington, there are no snap decisions. It’s a lifetime of wise decisions that make it so that you receive a state dinner invitation.”
No, it’s money. You think David Geffen’s scorching-hot boyfriend got to sit at a table with the president at that very same dinner because he made a lifetime of wise decisions? No, he made one wise decision, and that wise decision happened to raise a ton of money for Obama.
Claim: “When the Salahis put their collection of digital snaps of the state dinner on Facebook, they flouted all the unwritten rules of power-wall etiquette.”
Okay, this is probably true, but we just wanted to quote this part of the story:
A lot of power walls emphasize quantity, but the true influence maestros in the city understand that the smaller your power wall, the more power it conveys. James Healey, a former administrative aide to Dan Rostenkowski, who for a time was the House Ways and Means Committee chairman, has just two photos in his office at Prime Policy Group, a lobbying firm. One is a shot of his former boss, emblazoned with the words, “To Jim, who started the engine and made the wheels turn.” The other shows Mr. Healey and Tip O’Neill, a former speaker of the House. It reads, “We had some really good times, didn’t we?”.
Claim: “Equally offensive to local sensibilities, by draping herself on local luminaries, Ms. Salahi turned the city’s eminences into red-carpet, flash-bulb fodder.”
Again, this gives the Salahis way too much credit. Only someone with influence could actually pull that off. Like, say, Desirée Rogers.
Claim: “In Washington, notoriety can be hazardous to your career.”
Someone tell that to highly sought-after speaker and bestselling author Sarah Palin.