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June 14, 2012

Sally Quinn: My Money and Connections Don't Give Me Power Any Longer In the Dinner Party Social Heirarchy, And I Resent It (Oh Yeah: And I Think It's Bad for the Nation, Too)

An aging woman recalls her more vibrant glory days; film at 11.

She's rather perturbed that the Obamas are not social people and don't dine at her table (and these gatherings, frankly, sound like terrible things). So good on the Obamas for that.

But Quinn just can't let it go.

Interest groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,Citizens United and American Crossroads have become more and more powerful, beating out everyone else in the game.

...

There you have it. Money is power. The fundraiser has replaced the Washington dinner party.

She means that her dinner parties used to afford her a certain amount of Social Status/Networking Power, power which has now ebbed to other groups.

Even if that's true -- why should we prefer Sally Quinn's Social Status unelected, undemocratic power lever over any other unelected, undemocratic power lever?

Neither is fair, of course. Neither is voted on. Neither involves, much, the vaunted "Common Man." (Although you can come to a fundraiser, well-born or not, by forking over the required amount.)

Indeed, the whole point of a party like Sally Quinn's is that it's exclusive and reserved to the elite (or the elite as chosen by Sally Quinn). Her decisions as to who is and who is not club-worthy invest her -- or, at least once invested her -- with a certain amount of leverage and power.

But who voted for Sally Quinn? As far as I know, only her husband Ben Bradlee did, and given how annoying she is, I'd imagine he's chagrined about that vote.

Her bleat seems to have the subtext that her exercise of undemocratic (and unearned) authority was done for for the public good. But these other exercises? Those we ought to doubt.

Well I have no particular reason to trust Sally Quinn and, in fact, a great many reasons to distrust her, such as her ridiculous claim to speak "On Faith" while constantly denigrating faith.

Washington has become a community of small groups of people, mostly staying within their circles, occasionally making a foray out into the bigger world to large events, only to be turned off by the endless corporate “fundraiserness” of it all. How special can you feel when you know you have to pay to go to an event and then get a bad seat on top of that?

Not as special as being hand-selected by the Grand Dame Sally Quinn for dinner, of course. But I can pony up money and go to a fundraiser, and so can you; and this is why Sally Quinn objects. She doesn't get to construct the invitation list.

How crude! Don't they know she's a lively hostess? Don't they know that she once had Henry Kissinger at her home all the time?

Maybe people stopped coming to her parties because they got sick of hearing about Henry Kissinger coming to her parties in the seventies.

Update, Ms. Quinn. Even your anecdotes need a facelift.

Could it be that the Obamas, not knowing Washington, think that’s all there is to the social life here? Who wouldn’t want to stay away? On the other hand, he is the president of the United States and, whether he likes it or not, the leader of social as well as political Washington.

Unemployment is over 10% but we ought to grieve for Sally Quinn's diminished social prominence, and her great upset that Obama won't flatter her self-appointed position as the Social Queen Be of Washington, DC.

Bravo, Mr. President.

But maybe this small-group trend is not such a bad thing. Maybe, as in one of those post-apocalyptic movies where the planet has been destroyed by war, people will begin to make their own lives.

What? What does she imagine the non-invited persons have been doing for 60 years?

Quinn could not possibly have a revolving guest list of more than, say, 2000, tops. Based on these 2000 people, most of whom she barely knows at all, she thinks that people, generally, are getting on with "their own lives" simply because her social position is diminished?

Even among that 2000 -- does she really imagine her parties were so central to their lives that they were interfering with their lives? Such that freedom from her parties is now a kind of liberation?

Really?

I think freedom from her parties is, probably, a liberation. Because if people stop coming when they don't have to come anymore, that probably means they weren't enjoying themselves previously.

Now here comes the most revealing part of this already Too Much Information piece.

She now bleats that without her fake friends flattering her by pretending she's a player, she must now dine... with actual friends.

That’s what Ben and I have done. In the past, we might have attended five-course dinners a couple of nights a week, with a different wine for each course, served in a power-filled room of politicians, diplomats, White House officials and well-known journalists. Those gatherings don’t exist anymore. Now, we host and go to small dinners with close friends, dinners with some meaning to them, dinners that are celebrations of something. These evenings are sacred to me. They are filled with love and respect and caring. People are never looking over their shoulders to see who is more powerful, or, more likely, richer.

This piece is so dreadful, and so evincing of a deeply-felt sense of entitlement, that archliberals like Jonathan Chait are ripping it too, and I'm not even sure Chait said a single thing I'd disagree with.

Then again, I was really just reading the Quinn quotes with my mouth open in horror at the terrible social faux pas. The only thing more socially embarrassing than a diminishment of social status is a published whine about that that diminishment of social status, combined with a passive-aggressive attempt to guilt people into taking you seriously again.

Based on Quinn's essay, I think the Market Forces of Social Valuation have chosen correctly.

And, for the first time in my life, I am proud of President Obama.

Sally Quinn

There's nothing wrong with this country that my Fondue & Flan can't fix.


Unfortunate Choice of Which Age To Denigrate: I didn't quote it, but she expressed her frustration that "25 year old bloggers" were now afforded more social status than she.

That's an especially bad age to mention, because William Holden mentions that precise age while lecturing the delusional, deranged Norma Desmond (video below).


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posted by Ace at 06:49 PM

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