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Status Anxiety

As I write this from a cafe patio, a young dude in a black Obama shirt and designer jeans is jawing into his cell phone: "My priority for tonight is to get into the [unintelligible] party. I think I'm on the list with a plus-one." I hear someone saying this sort of thing about every 20 minutes. Maybe I've been in the wrong places, but it feels to me like people here are spending more time talking about what receptions and parties they're getting into than actually discussing politics. Exclusivity lies at every turn. The entrances to the "Big Tent" run by Google, YouTube, DailyKos and others are staffed by a crew of sentries wearing wireless headsets, not unlike, say,  the door to some posh Manhattan nightclub. ("I'm sure I can get at least one person in," I heard the friend of a friend explain outside the doors this afternoon.) The Distilled Spirits Council party last night featured an entrance for "Sponsors," and another for the rabble; when a non-sponsor friend and I made the unwitting gaffe of using the sponsors entrance we were treated like potential suicide bombers. 

One senior Democrat I spoke with today described with exasperation the crass requests he's been getting from party donors for passes and tickets to this and that. ("Silly me, I thought they were in it for the Democratic ideals.") At the Ritz Carlton bar last night I saw a 40-something guy in a pinstriped suit dazzle a pair of bejeweled young women with a walletful of tickets to some VIP event or another--the coins of the realm. I heard a lobbyist ask a House aide at one reception, "Is your boss coming? Because otherwise I'm going to tell my CEO he can leave." Vast energy is expended as people either demonstrate or seek to enhance their status. Oddly the people who seem most fixated on real substance are the "fringe" lefty protesters roaming the streets--and, probably, unseen campaign workers who don't actually get to roam around and party all week, crazy as that may seem....

On the upside: Bunk Moreland of "The Wire" was spotted at the Ritz today. Did Omar get a speaking slot?

Update: A different person, overheard not five minutes after posting this item--"I RSVP'ed but it says on Facebook that I'm not on the list...." Disaster!

--Michael Crowley