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‘It’s the End of Small Talk in Washington’


WestVirginiaRebel

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WestVirginiaRebel
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During the 1968 riots, Washington, D.C., was ablaze with arson and looting when an aide burst in to tell President Lyndon B. Johnson of a rumor that the carnage was headed toward the exclusive precincts of Georgetown. Johnson replied with acid humor: “I’ve waited 35 years for this day.”

LBJ was not talking so much about Georgetown as a physical place. He was talking about Georgetown as a state of mind, that web of journalists and socialites and former government officials—united by overlapping friendships and shared class, cultural and ideological affinities—that served as capital tastemakers and played on the social ambitions and insecurities of generations of presidents.

Georgetown as LBJ thought of it, and as presidents up through Bill Clinton encountered it, is now a faint ghost, largely a historical phenomenon. But its lineal descendant is still very much around. It is that group of scene-makers and self-promoters, along with some well-intentioned people who genuinely admire public service, that journalist Mark Leibovich skewered in his 2013 book This Town.

If these were normal times, the kind of people LBJ excoriated and Leibovich lampooned would be engaged right now in a familiar ritual. It would involve lunches and dinners with the new White House team, off-the-record chats about the workings of government mixed with let’s-be-friends chatter about real estate and schools and fitness routines. Presidential advisers would respond cautiously, flattered by their new social cachet, and correctly worried that they might be suspected of divided loyalties and leaks back at the White House.

But these aren’t normal times. Team Trump is showing few signs so far of hungering for the sort of social intercourse with permanent Washington that usually accompanies a new administration. And many longtime capital denizens in interviews describe themselves as put off by what they see as Trump’s personal vulgarity, and disturbed on some more fundamental level by the tornado of ethical controversies swirling around him.

“I think you are going to need a very strong blender to mix the Washington community with the Trump crowd, and I don’t think it’s going to end up being a smoothie,” says Sally Quinn, widow of the legendary Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee. “A friend of mine said, ‘It’s the end of small talk in Washington.’”

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Pity the poor insiders who can't stay inside their bubble anymore...:rolleyes:

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