NAGOURNEY (4/23/07): In the last paragraph of that story, which I wrote with a colleague, Richard W. Stevenson, an unnamed Bush associate was quoted as referring to Mr. Edwards as the Breck Girl of politics. Another Bush adviser, again unnamed, was quoted as saying of Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, he looks French.In both instances, we were attempting to flesh out for readers the White Houses plans for discrediting prospective Democratic opponents, Nagourney writes. As Nagourney continues, he suggests some regrets. Our story may have had the result of not only previewing what the Bush campaign intended to do, but, by introducing such memorably biting characterizations into the political dialogue, helping it.
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (4/24/07): While Maureen Dowd hints at hypocrisy by denouncing presidential candidates for building fancy houses or spending big money on haircuts, we should all remember how weak the connection is between personal wealth and public policy.We agree with every word. (Especially with the key word: distraction.) But remember—Dowd doesnt give a flying f*ck about the poor, the hungry, the neglected (or the uninsured; or the pinched middle-class). Meanwhile, such empty-souled losers live for distraction; they often like to convince themselves that no one else cares about such matters either. It bothers them when they hear people speak about the things they find so tedious. They want to insist that Edwards must be a big fake—that no one could actually care about this! And they like to pretend that their own dumb concerns are the concerns of the far-seeing public. Hence, they invent silly claims in which they pretend that its the public which wont put up with effete pretension (as they define it). For example, they pretend that the public rejected Bush 41 because he once uttered a preppy expression. In fact, Bush 41 got elected that year, as Dowd reported when it happened. But so what? As always, she simply made some sh*t up. It helped her drive home her Great Point.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was among our richest presidents. He wore elegant suits, lived in the mega-mansion of Hyde Park, and was no stranger to the social life of the richest in the nation—during the depths of the Depression. Yet no president before him and none since have done as much for the poor, the hungry, the neglected.
What mattered then, and what matters now, is what the president does for the people. The rest is a monumental distraction.
Katherine S. Newman
Princeton, N.J., April 21, 2007
The writer is a professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University.
BRADY (8/03): [Tim] Russert is part of the Nantucket NBC crowd, one of the cliques that fuels the isle's social engine. It was Jack Welch, the story goes, the 20-year chairman and CEO of NBC's parent company, General Electric, who drew network folk to Nantucket.Before Brady chose to spill the beans, did you even know that Russert summers? More specifically, did you know that he summers in consort with GEs Jack Welch, his long-time (conservative) boss-man? (A year after Bradys piece appeared, Chris Matthews plunked down a cool 4.4 mill to buy his own Nantucket shack.) And well be honest; this whole thing seemed a bit more odd in light of the November 2000 profile by USA Todays Peter Johnson, who said this of Russert tie to his bosses: Colleagues say he shares a Catholic bond with NBC president Bob Wright and General Electric chairman Jack Welch. If Bradys report can be believed, the three men seal their bond on Nantucket.
Russert and his wife, Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth, began summering on Nantucket in 1992. Russert has said he can go days without leaving his house except for a bike ride to get the newspapers. Then he'll sit in his rocking chair and watch the grass blow in the breeze....
Russert's boss, NBC CEO Bob Wright, is also on the scene. Add to the cocktail chatter the latest tidbits from the Oval Office, care of White House correspondent David Gregory, who was married on Nantucket and returns with his wife, Beth, for vacations.
NEW YORK TIMES (6/11/00): Beth Ann Wilkinson, a lawyer, and David Michael Gregory, a television reporter, both of whom work in Washington, were married on Nantucket Island yesterday. Judge Merrick B. Garland of the Federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit officiated at the Summer House [no relation], an inn in Siasconset, Mass.Not that theres anything wrong with it! And before we type a single word more, lets make sure we all know one thing. We will not allege undesirable conduct, of any kind, about the subjects of this weeks profile. Lets say it again: Gregory is a better-than-average Washington TV journo. Wilkinson is a highly accomplished, superstar lawyer. And yes, she donates to Democratic hopefuls. On kooky-con web sites, she sometimes gets hammered for alleged ties with some Big Major Dems.
Ms. Wilkinson, who is keeping her name, is a partner in the law firm of Latham & Watkins. A former special attorney with the Justice Department, she was a prosecutor in the Oklahoma City bombing trials. She graduated magna cum laude from Princeton and received her law degree from the University of Virginia. She is a daughter of Judith and Robert Wilkinson of Richland, Wash. Her father, a retired Navy submarine captain, is the director of the nuclear spent-fuel project in Hanford, Wash.
Mr. Gregory is a political correspondent covering the presidential campaign of Gov. George W. Bush for NBC News. He graduated from American University. He is the son of Carolyn Surtees of Los Angeles and Don Gregory of Newport Beach, Calif. His father is a theatrical and film producer in Newport Beach. The bridegroom's mother is an account manager in the business services division, in San Fernando, Calif., for Office Depot, the office supplies chain.
BRADY: Although Welch retired in 2001, he's still a power magnet. He holds court from a massive gray-shingled home festooned with window boxes, near Sankaty Head Golf Club.Last summer, Welch did a Hardball interview from Nantucket, telling Chris all about the great job Bush had been doing with the economy (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/13/06). Should Welch and Matthews have explained their connection? Who knows? It wouldnt have hurt.
BEGGY (8/1/06): Nantucket nabobs feted NBC Universal bigshot Bob Wright and his wife, Suzanne, at the American Ireland Fund's cocktail party over the weekend. The power couple were commended for their "Autism Speaks" initiative, a campaign they founded to find a cure for the undeclared epidemic. (The Wrights' 5-year-old grandson, Christian, is autistic.) Autism knocked on the wrong door," said Suzanne Wright. Not only did Deutsche Bank managing director Bart Grenier host Sunday's shindig at his Eel Point manse, but he ponied up $15,000 for the right not to address the assembled elite. Chaired by "Meet the Press" moderator Tim Russert and his wife, "Vanity Fair" correspondent Maureen Orth , the posh party was attended by NBC White House correspondent David Gregory and his wife, Fannie Mae executive VP Beth Wilkinson, "Hardball" host Chris Matthews and his wife, DC news anchor Kathleen Matthews, former PBS poobah Pat Mitchell, actor John Shea, Irish ambassador to the United States Noel Fahey, Democratic consultant Bob Crowe, Fidelity Investments vice chair Bob Reynolds , Boston Capital CEO Jack Manning, "Cheers" owner Tom Kershaw, and model Hollis Colby. The event raised more than $100,000.Lets give credit where credit is due. At least Maureen Dowd wasnt there.