Ge­orge­town Is Over: McLean Is The Hot Spot, Says New Repub­lic

The Washington Post - - Style - By Peter Carl­son

Lis­ten up, all you Belt­way bash­ers, you pop­ulist polemi­cists, you anti-plu­to­crat rab­ble-rousers: It turns out you’ve been lob­bing your rhetor­i­cal can­non­balls at the wrong tar­get!

While you’ve been de­nounc­ing elit­ist “Ge­orge­town din­ner par­ties” all th­ese years, a new elite has taken over — and it lives across the river, in McLean. Ooops!

The cover story in the new­est New Repub­lic makes it of­fi­cial: “So long Ge­orge­town, McLean is the new home of Amer­ica’s rul­ing class.”

Over the past decade, McLean, for­merly a sleepy lit­tle burg, has been over­run by hordes of Repub­li­can pols, pun­dits and lob­by­ists. McLean has be­come “the psy­chic cen­ter of the Wash­ing­ton Repub­li­can es­tab­lish­ment,” writes Michael Crowley. “It is packed with the peo­ple who im­peached Bill Clin­ton, elected Ge­orge W. Bush, launched the Iraq war, and have now learned to make mil­lions from their as­so­ci­a­tion with gov­ern­ment.”

McLean’s 40,000 res­i­dents in­clude GOP big­wigs such as Newt Gin­grich, Scooter Libby, Colin Pow­ell, Andrew Card, Liz Cheney, Bill Kristol, Clarence Thomas, An­tonin Scalia — and scads of ob­scure Repub­li­cans who were Hill staffers in the Gin­grich revo­lu­tion and are now rak­ing

Michael Crowley, in big bucks as lob­by­ists, thus en­abling them to af­ford to live in a town where the av­er­age house sells for $905,000.

Ge­orge­town is still a swell place, of course, but its power has faded with the demise of the lib­eral Democrats who made it fa­mous for din­ner par­ties where John Ken­neth Gal­braith en­ter­tained Pamela Har­ri­man with bons mots.

“The mi­gra­tion of power from Ge­orge­town to McLean rep­re­sents the shift in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics in mi­cro­cosm,” Crowley writes. “The North­east­ern lib­eral elite drawn to the ur­bane so­phis­ti­ca­tion of Ge­orge­town has re­ceded. In its place has risen a new con­ser­va­tive striver class . . . that has set it­self up as landed gen­try across the Po­tomac in McLean.”

Th­ese rich Repub­li­cans don’t want to buy ven­er­a­ble­but-un­der­stated 18th-cen­tury Ge­orge­town houses with creaky stair­cases and an­cient plumb­ing. No, Repub­li­cans pre­fer some­thing a lit­tle more like . . . the palace at Ver­sailles.

Ed­wina Rogers — a for­mer Bush White House aide and the wife of Ed Rogers, a for­mer Rea­gan aide now lob­by­ing for Eli Lilly, Lo­ril­lard To­bacco Co. and the gov­ern­ment of Qatar — gave Crowley a tour of Surry Hill, her 18,000-square-foot McLean mega-man­sion. “Ed­wina doesn’t know the to­tal num­ber of rooms in Surry Hill,” Crowley writes, “but an el­e­va­tor ser­vices the house’s three floors. Up­stairs, Ed­wina’s bath­room (one of eight) fea­tures a small fire­place by the tub . . . ”

But Rogers is proud­est of her private art gallery and its ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion. “We do a lot of lob­by­ing for for­eign gov­ern­ments,” she tells Crowley. “I just can’t imag­ine any coun­try we haven’t got­ten a piece from.”

Build­ing palaces with money made shilling for for­eign gov­ern­ments. Is that how Repub­li­cans be­came the party of pa­tri­o­tism?

One of McLean’s few prom­i­nent Democrats, Zbig­niew Brzezin­ski, who was Jimmy Carter’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, hates th­ese gaudy new “McMan­sions.” He de­scribes them to Crowley as “pre­ten­tious, pompous, much too large for the typ­i­cal fam­ily of two adults and one child — plus the req­ui­site visit­ing di­vorce lawyer.”

Meow! Don’t you just love th­ese rul­ing-class cat­fights?

McLean has a fine pub­lic school sys­tem, but the new elite — like the old elite — prefers to ed­u­cate its spawn in private school, es­pe­cially the tony Po­tomac School, where the an­nual tu­ition is $22,000 per tyke. Ev­ery year, Crowley re­ports, the school auc­tions off the nam­ing rights for the lit­tle road that am­bles through the bu­colic 87acre cam­pus. The bid­ding runs into “five fig­ures,” and Ed and Ed­wina Rogers have won the last two auc­tions. This year the road is called Sabra Lane, af­ter their daugh­ter. Last year it was Ha­ley Lane af­ter their son, who is named for Ed’s old lob­by­ing part­ner, Ha­ley Bar­bour, the for­mer RNC hon­cho and cur­rent Mis­sis­sippi gov­er­nor. Isn’t that spe­cial? Life in McLean is just ducky, Crowley re­ports, ex­cept for one pesky prob­lem: Some­times, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal lore, the il­le­gal im­mi­grants who keep the McMan­sions clean ac­ci­den­tally drive onto the grounds of the CIA and they’re never seen again.

And it’s so hard to get good help th­ese days.

The Worldly-Wise Bill Clin­ton

Love him or hate him, Bill Clin­ton re­mains one of the most fas­ci­nat­ing pols in Amer­ica. This week’s New Yorker con­tains a very long but riv­et­ing piece on Clin­ton by David Rem­nick, the ed­i­tor of that mag­a­zine, who ap­par­ently as­signed him­self the job of trav­el­ing with Clin­ton to Arkansas, New Hamp­shire, Ger­many, South Africa, Malawi, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Along the way, Clin­ton hob­nobbed with Nelson Man­dela, Bill Gates and sev­eral heads of state, played end­less games of Oh, Hell with his staff, and dis­coursed on ev­ery­thing from the his­tory of light bulbs to the spread of AIDS.

On the U.S. fail­ure to stop geno­cide in Rwanda: “That was my fault. I should have been alert and alive to it. And that’s why I went there and apol­o­gized in ’98.”

On Boris Yeltsin: “I don’t care how drunk he was some­times. Yeltsin re­ally hated Com­mu­nism.”

On con­tem­po­rary Repub­li­cans: “Nixon was a Com­muget

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