With the World Series around the corner, it’s a good time to consider the famous quote of French-born intellectual Jacques Martin Barzun. “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball.”
That’s not as true as it used to be back when baseball was a true national pastime. Also, of course, Barzun had in mind the game played by nine men on a diamond, not the “inside baseball” games so popular in Washington. For in fact, the people who play D.C.-style baseball almost certainly don’t know the “heart and mind of America.”
Consider a recent offering from Howard Fineman. He’s listed as Newsweek’s “senior Washington Correspondent and columnist, senior editor and deputy Washington Bureau Chief.” Plenty of inside-the Beltway baseball caps, there.
Writing about the country’s ongoing economic troubles, Fineman commented, “Another good move in times like these is to get outside of the Beltway. I did that the other day, when I flew to Mississippi for the first presidential debate.”
Now, how is traveling with the Washington press corps to a debate getting “outside the Beltway?” Reporters, columnists and “deputy bureau chiefs” bring their Beltway with them wherever they go.
Fineman’s out of touch, but at least he did manage to see some typical Americans. His fellow Newsweek columnist Evan Thomas isn’t even certain that such people could be trusted to run this great country.
“I went to a party two Sundays ago given by a friend, a well-known journalist, who is well connected in Washington and friends with various movers and shakers, particularly in the legal world,” Thomas wrote in June.
“There was a certain amount of worry that the Washington establishment was about to embark upon one of its periodic acts of cannibalism and start questioning the client relationships or legal involvements of other Washington insiders close to [Sen. Barack] Obama.”
Yes, we cannot have that. How could anyone dare question the relationships of an Obama supporter? Just putting an “I support change” sign on one’s front lawn should be enough to guarantee fairness. Heck, it’s working for Gwen Ifill and Linda Douglass, two “journalists” with close ties to the Obama campaign.
Thomas continued, “we all agreed it would be unfortunate if, say, Greg Craig were disqualified from taking a top job with Obama (whom Craig advises on foreign policy) because he has, necessarily, represented some shady types over the years as a white-collar defense lawyer.”
First, it’s not necessarily clear that a lawyer must represent “shady types.” For example, it’s difficult to imagine Atticus Finch, the small-town lawyer portrayed in the book “To Kill A Mockingbird,” counseling a bad guy.