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    She thought she’d look good in purple jeans / From Santa Fe

    This sort of thing leaves me speechless:

    Some attendees clearly resented the Republicans who came in from all over the country to attend the official inauguration balls.

    “There’s this Republican head-in-the-clouds mentality – we just want to have a good time, because we gave a lot of money to the Republican National Committee,” said Denise Ross, 31, of Arlington, Va.

    She also lambasted their fashion sense, recalling seeing women in open-toe sandals and fur coats.

    If it were just Denise Ross, 31, of Arlington, VA, who thought this way, I wouldn’t mind so much; but it’s not. She crystallizes an entire mentality, so just in case any of her fellow-feelers happen to wander by here, I’d like to set a thing or two straight:

    Americans love Washington because the great temples of our republic are there. We know that it houses plenty of dedicated public servants who focus more on the service than on the public, and we’re grateful to them.

    Let’s be clear, though: DC and its environs are a cultural backwater, a fact known around the world. For every self-abnegating true-believer–unshowy and discreet–you encounter what seems like a dozen smug types who appear to have come to Washington in the belief that simply being close to the Center of Power lends profound importance to their every memo, meeting, and trip to the bathroom. Yes, New York and Los Angeles have their obnoxious superiority complexes, too–New York’s in its general where-it’s-at-ness, and LA’s in its inescapable talk about “the Industry.” But those cities also exalt the transformative power of the imagination. That’s more obviously true of LA, which creates movies full of make-believe, but it also inheres in New York’s advertising and investment banking, which fund and publicize people’s dream projects and test whether they have a receptive audience in which to flourish.

    Washington’s magnetism, in the age of lobbies and lawyers for everything, comes from the flat, decidedly un-dreamlike coercive power of legislation and regulation. LA attracts people who want to rule the public by becoming stars and capturing their hearts; Washington attracts people who literally want to be involved in making the rules that boss people around. (And, obviously, while I’m saying “DC” and “Washington,” I’m referring equally to Fairfax County and southern Maryland.)

    And–make me barf!–that goes quadruple for style. How dare anyone in that metro area criticize other people’s fashion sense! This is the place where every outfit is chosen to make sure it can’t offend the sensibilities of someone whose ass might need kissing. J. Press mannequins are dressed with more flair, idiosyncratic confidence, and presence than I’ve ever seen on a Washingtonian.

    As for fur coats with open-toed shoes…well, that’s not an obvious combination. I can see it being pulled off with ease, though, by a lady of a certain age. She would have had to keep her bosom and legs presentable, and to have relaxed into herself enough to be stouter than she was as a girl. And she’d need a positively obscene number of diamonds–drop earrings, clearly, if not chandeliers. But why not? Inauguration day only comes once every four years, and a more self-critical soul than Ms. Ross might have a chance to learn there are clothiers in the world besides Talbots.


    And finally, check out the accompanying picture of Barney Frank. Will the man never learn not to assume that deadly petulant expression in front of the camera? He looks like he went to his plastic surgeon and said, “I was hoping we could do sort of a Barbara Mikulski thing….”

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