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Intellectual Garbage Cleanup (Joe Klein Edition)

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? Economist Edition: Denial Is Not Just a River in Egypt...

A very odd note from the Economist's Free Exchange:

Henry Paulson's crisis | Free exchange | More interesting to me is the way that [Henry Paulson] an extremely accomplished and powerful individual--CEO of the great vampire squid before taking the helm of the American economy... boggle[s] at the Washington's political game in tones befitting a liberal blogger:

When it came to Washington, Paulson found he had much to learn. “It’s directionally the same, but the extent of it is very different,” he would tell me. “Here’s what I mean: I found that at Goldman Sachs, to be effective as a leader, you had to build consensus when you’re managing smart people who’ve got other alternatives.… I’m in that situation today to a much greater extent than I ever was at Goldman Sachs, because the people I’m trying to bring together are truly independent. Oftentimes, they may even agree [with me] in private, but because of their constituencies or because of their parties or because of their committee chairmen or because of what the American people think, you know, won’t agree in public. So I have to get used to people saying, ‘Boy, that’s reasonable—I really think a trade agreement with Colombia is great, but I can’t be for it.’ ” Repeatedly, phone conversations with members of Congress would go as follows. Paulson would ask, What do you think we should do?, and the reply would come: “Exactly what you’re doing. If you need my vote to get it done, I’ll vote with you, but, fortunately, you don’t, and I can take a pass.”

Paulson was appalled by the two-facedness of some members of Congress. “And they say—they’re calling—‘Oh, sorry to do that,’ ‘I hate to do it,’ ‘We’re so glad you’re here,’ ‘There’s such a burden on you,’ ‘Thank you for being here. Don’t worry. We’ll get this done. We’ll work this through.’ And then, up there … my God!” It took a year to get acclimated, “because I didn’t understand the system.”

And the Economist writes of Paulson's:

interesting political commentary, in particular the kind words he has for Democrats and the comparatively rough treatment of Republicans. The secretary speaks very highly of Nancy Pelosi, Timothy Geithner, and Barney Frank, while generally bemoaning the actions of the Republican congressional caucuses and the Bush White House...

There is a big reality disconnect going on here in the Economist's brain, I think. People from outside Washington who arrive and look around--hell, people inside Washington who don't belong to the media-lobbying complex--take a look at Washington and decide that the politicians who run the Republican Party are:

  • cowardly,
  • corrupt,
  • and cynical,
  • when they are not simply bats--- insane.

But when somebody says this--as Henry Paulson said to Todd Purdham--the Economist starts sneering: "tones befitting a liberal blogger." It's not clear why: is it that everybody already knows this except for "political innocent[s]" who are worth sneering at? But that cannot be, can it? I mean, the Economist never lays it out for its readers so they can learn what "everybody already knows," does it?

I would note that the Economist's failings are several orders of magnitude more elevated than are the failings of the Washington Post--where they can't even get he said-she said stenography right--or the New York Times--which begs to be played by PR firms...