USA | När Mark Leibovich, The New York Times Magazine, släppte boken This Town slog den ner som en bomb i Washington.
Åtminstone slog den ner som en bomb hos den lilla del av befolkningen som kallar sig politiker och den del av media vars jobb det är att bevaka dessa politiker.
Bilden som Leibovich målar upp var inte speciellt smickrande för någon av personerna som beskrevs.
Mest förödande var det naturligtvis för den del av media vars uppgift det är att objektivt bevaka och granska politiken.
Denna objektivitet kan man naturligtvis ifrågasätta med tanke på det smått incestuösa förhållandet mellan media och politiker.
I artikeln följer han en av dessa politiska “operatives” som lever i nära symbios med media.
Kurt Bardella is not a guy you can easily root for. He activates your radar and not in a good way. He laughs too much and too loud. He hangs out in cigar bars. When he talks with you, you suspect you are being worked.
I liked him instantly.
By that I mean Bardella gave me a headache, but I liked that he flouted the norms of the smooth Washington hustler. In a city where even the most rabid striving must be cloaked in nonchalance, Bardella never pulled this off or even tried. He was not shy about sharing — on his Facebook page — his ultimate ambition: to become the White House press secretary. He was not reticent in acknowledging a danger of his brash style: “I’m never that far away from blowing myself up completely,” he told me once. “It’s all part and parcel of my inferiority complex.” But generally, Bardella added, he was pretty good about channeling his demons in a way that benefited his boss, Representative Darrell Issa, Republican of California.
Bardella evinced a desperation that made him more honest than people in Washington typically are. Or maybe “transparent” is a better word, because he did seem to lie sometimes (or “spin” sometimes), at least to me. Even as he stuck out among earnest Hill deputies, something about Bardella wonderfully embodied the place. It’s not that Washington hasn’t forever been populated by high-reaching fireballs. But an economic and information boom in recent years has transformed the city in ways that go well beyond the standard profile of dysfunction. To say that today’s Washington is too partisan and out of touch is to miss a much more important truth — that rather than being hopelessly divided, it is hopelessly interconnected. It misses the degree to which New Media has both democratized the political conversation and accentuated Washington’s myopic, self-loving tendencies. And it misses, most of all, how an operator like Kurt Bardella can land in a culture of beautifully busy people and, by trading on all the self-interest and egomania that knows no political affiliation, rewrite the story of his own life.
Bardella was never going to be one of those civic-minded idealists who descend on the capital every year to “make a difference.” When I first met him, he admitted that he was not much of a true believer in any political cause. The Republicans simply found him first. He told me that he was not so much an “R” or a “D” as he was an “O” — “an opportunist.” His passions were ignited less by an inspirational candidate or officeholder — there were no posters of Ronald Reagan or J.F.K. — than they were by celebrity operatives on TV, fictional (Josh Lyman) or real (James Carville). They were the players in a thrilling screen game, and Bardella wanted in.
“When I first came here,” he told me, “I was standing on the streetcorner with my suitcase, thinking: There’s no way I belong here. This is crazy. I’m going to get eaten alive.”
As a teenager, Bardella read the memoir of the celebrated Clinton aide turned TV star, George Stephanopoulos, “All Too Human: A Political Education.” What struck Bardella was Stephanopoulos’s description of his years as an altar boy in the Greek Orthodox church he attended in Rye, N.Y. It excited him, Stephanopoulos wrote, to be within the sanctum, an excitement he compared with the thrill he felt later as a political operative who penetrated the privileged circle where decisions are made.
“There is that place to get in Washington that everybody is striving for,” Bardella told me. “Once you get to that place, that inside place, you kind of just know it. It’s exciting,” he said. “But you’re never sure if that feeling is going to last, or if other people are seeing you as someone on the inside. It puts you on edge, constantly.”
Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine den 7 juli 2013.