The Village In A Nutshell
Bob Schieffer does us all a great service in his commentary on Face The Nation yesterday by defining the Village's version of a meritocracy - where people elevate in the DC community, not on the strength of their talent or brilliance, but whether or not they go to the right cocktail parties:
I had no problem with the Justice's legal work. But as one who has lived 40 years in Washington, I'll be honest: I didn't care for his attitude.
He made it no secret that he hated the city, once describing his work as the best job in the world in the worst city in the world.
Another time he called life here "akin to an intellectual lobotomy."
Really? Our nation's capital? One of the most beautiful cities in the world?
Call me corny, but I have to confess, I've run into some pretty smart people here over the years, but then again I tried to get to know the city and its inhabitants. Who wouldn't if you were going to live in a place? Justice Souter, obviously.
I've never known anyone who ever saw him outside the court. But now he's leaving. I take it he won't miss Washington - but my guess is Washington will hardly miss him.
Apparently we're supposed to care that David Souter preferred hiking in New Hampshire to schmoozing with Bob Schieffer. It's certainly colored the coverage of him. I remember multi-page spreads when Sandra Day O'Connor and William Rehnquist left the Court. Here, Souter gets the "if you didn't like us then we didn't like you" send-off.
In a certain sense, I relate this to the rapidly accepted conventional wisdom around Sonia Sotomayor as a dumb tokenist candidate for the Court, and the pervasive sexism that implies. To me, Jeffrey Rosen's conflation of diversity with mediocrity just jibes with the Village's conflation of chumminess with aptitude. Or even the conflation of pragmatism with wisdom. What matters to them are the relationships people make with them. Once you become a member in good standing you can do no wrong. And until you become one you can do no right.