Monday, April 23, 2007


David Carr, writing about the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in today's New York Times, reports that the Last Honest Man has had it up to here with D.C. clubbiness:

Christopher Hitchens, the writer and Vanity Fair columnist, walked out of the dinner at about the time [Rich] Little got around to his Ronald Reagan impression.

"The event was disgraceful, so lame and mediocre that it is beyond parody," he said later. "It is impossible to decide which is more offensive: the president fawning over the press or the press fawning over the president. It expresses everything that the public means when they talk about inside-the-Beltway and access journalism."

Yeah, fawning over the president -- how dare those people! That's Hitch's job!

Back to Carr in the Times:

Mr. Hitchens didn't storm out of the city. He stormed back to his house, where he ...

He what? Showed his contempt for the power elites by getting together with a group of longshoremen and stevedores and drinking Bud with them straight out of the can?

Er, no, not exactly:

... co-hosted (along with fellow Vanity Fair contributor Todd Purdum and former Clinton aide Dee Dee Myers) the magazine's post-dinner party, a much sought-after ticket.

Mr. Hitchens ... still serves as something of a social arbiter in Washington.... Paul Wolfowitz, the embattled World Bank president, was chatting amiably in a roomful of journalists at Mr. Hitchens' home.

Well, how do you expect the Hitch to speak truth to power if power doesn't get an engraved invitation to show up for cocktails?


As for the entertainment at the WHCA dinner itself:

Mr. Little, a one-man time machine, obliged by dialing the room back decades to a time when Uncle Walter told us that's the way it is, Johnny Carson tucked us all in and a bit about Richard Nixon singing "My Way" was considered naughty fun. A painful piano ditty that would not pass muster in the Catskills made fun, not of the president, but of something we can all get behind: Osama bin Laden’s turban.

OBL's turban? Jeez, if that's what you want at the WHCA, just hire this guy.


I should add that I don't agree at all with Carr's main thesis: that the WHCA dinner is a desperate attempt to preserve the dying Beltway of old, which is giving way to a brave new Comedy Central/YouTube world. Maybe that day is coming, but I still think 2008 will have a very old-school election, if only because what we know (or think we know) about so many of '08's candidates -- Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Al Gore if he runs -- was disseminated in the pre-YouTube era by old-school bloviators from the very establishment the WHCA represents. Even John Edwards became the "Breck Girl" in that essentially old-media bygone year 2004. And, of course, we got to know Fred Thompson via one of the dinosaur networks, for heaven's sake. The mainstream media's framing of all these candidates is what's driving the polls right now (Generic Democrat kicks Generic Republican's butt, but America's Mayor and the Maverick demolish the Witch or Ozone Man) -- and, alas, I think that's going to continue for the next year and a half.

I'm ready for Election 2.0, but I'm afraid it's a cycle or three away.

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