It's no secret that Barack Obama has promised change in Washington. This week, Michelle Cottle reports on an unusual aspect of this change-to-be: the city's notoriously status-conscious social scene, which has already begun to rearrange itself around the incoming president. (Michael Schaffer notes that even the Obamas' choice of grade school has the capitol's elite atwitter.)
But what about the center of the Washington ruling class throughout the Bush years--McLean, Virginia? TNR Senior Editor Michael Crowley declared McLean the Georgetown of the Bush era in a much-discussed TNR cover story from 2006, "GOPtopia."
McLean covers just 18 square miles and has a population of 40,000. But 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. Some are famous--people like Bill Kristol and Colin Powell, Scooter Libby and Newt Gingrich, several current and former Republican senators, and Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. Dick Cheney once owned a McLean townhouse--until he sold it to Bush's 2000 campaign manager, Joe Allbaugh. ...
These people live in a leafy suburb among landmarks that neatly represent the modern GOP era: McLean Bible Church, a holy destination for GOP senators and Bush aides; the storied Saudi Arabian ambassador's personal compound; and the forbidden palace of CIA headquarters. ("Never accidentally turn in," Edwina [Rogers] cautions. Legend has it that many an illegal-immigrant housekeeper who did has never been seen again.) When Bush rushed to open a presidential transition office during the 2000 Florida recount, Cheney had his daughter scout out locations in McLean, and it was from there that the Bush team would lay its symbolic claim to the White House.