…to all agree on something: put a sock in it, Sally Quinn. We’re all sorry in response to your belief that the Republic is apparently doomed because people aren’t going to your dinner parties anymore; and by “all sorry” I mean “raising a proletarian middle finger at you.” As Ace notes, nobody particularly elected Quinn to be a power broker; and as Chait notes, this entire thing is – to use Tom Lehrer’s memorable phrase – just soggy with nostalgia.
Seriously, there’s not a damn word of Chait’s here that I disagree with:
[Quinn’s] essay broadly belongs to a particular genre that I think of as a cargo cult of bipartisanship focused on dinner parties. Cargo cults are a phenomenon of tribal societies that came into contact with advanced societies, coveted the advanced industrial goods they shipped in (cargo), and failed to understand why the cargo stopped appearing when the Westerners left. They often attempt to summon it back by constructing crude, wood-and-straw imitations of landing strips, radios, or imitating other rituals they observed.
The bipartisanship cargo cult in Washington is a rather sad tribe of people that laments the decline of bipartisanship, fails to grasp the larger historic forces that made bipartisanship appear and then disappear, and concludes that the problem is the lack of dinner parties. This is, believe it or not, an extremely common belief in our capital city. Seriously. Hardly a week goes by without somebody blaming partisan polarization on the lack of proper dinner parties or, in an occasional twist, lunch.
And Chait and I are not exactly on each other’s Christmas card lists. Although the three of us are certainly not on Sally Quinn’s… and that’s really the problem, isn’t it? Not only are we not on them, none of us want to be on them. And not only do we not want to be on them; we don’t particularly need to be on them to get done what we wish to get done.
And ain’t that a shame.