It’s easy to make fun of Politico, but Jim Newell does it particularly well:
It’s not fun, having to apply a therapeutic reading to some of the Washington press corps’s most inscrutable minds. We really don’t want to know—and don’t have the requisite time to learn—about the fears haunting Politico senior writer Mike Allen, a man in his 40s who refuses to show or tell any of his friends where he lives. But it is the only reading that lends any sort of sense to this three-page dumping of tribal insecurities and resentment that Allen and Politico editor Jim VandeHei blasted out to the world in this latest, most cringeworthy episode of “Behind the Curtain.”
The column is an early and ham-fisted attempt to preemptively smear an upcoming book from well-regarded New York Times Magazine features writer Mark Leibovich. This Town: The Way it Works in Suck Up City, set for release in mid-July, has been in the works for a couple of years, and promises to tell all about the “incestuous ecology” of D.C.’s social scene of media and political elites—coming from an author who’s put in his time as a member of said scene, and may finally be experiencing the sort of spiritual awakening that now allows him to share freely.
Part of what made the old New Yorker a great magazine was the fact that editor Harold Ross “believed the only two people everyone in the English-speaking world was familiar with were Harry Houdini and Sherlock Holmes” and would write “Who he?” in the margins next to any other unexplained name. Politico is quite different:
The targets are the worst-kept secrets in this town, an overused expression of D.C. insiders: Robert Barnett; Tammy Haddad; the people transacting or showboating at Tim Russert’s funeral; the warring factions in Obama’s campaign and White House; former Obama aides who try to cash in; and Kurt Bardella, the House aide who was fired when POLITICO reported that he had been forwarding reporters’ emails to Leibovich. Oh, and POLITICO broadly and Mike Allen specifically.
How many Politico readers can have heard of Tammy Haddad and Robert Barnett?