Why Swallow The Key To The Smoke Filled Room?

by Conor Friedersdorf

Remember back in 1999, when George W. Bush suddenly emerged on the scene as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination with a huge campaign war chest and an air of inevitability? It's what I thought of immediately after reading – via sharp-eyed Jonathan Chait – this passage from Bill Kristol:

We know the superiority of spontaneous order to central planning. But too many GOP bigwigs in Washington who claim to have read Hayek have succumbed to the fatal conceit. They’re meeting nonstop trying to determine for us all now, a year before the first primarywith limited information as to relevant candidate skills and almost no knowledge of next year’s political environmentwho the best presidential candidate would be.

Democratic capitalists admire Schumpeter for explaining the virtues of creative destruction. But too many donors to the party of democratic capitalism are huddling in New York this winter figuring out if there isn’t some way to short-circuit this kind of healthyif messy, to be surecompetition among entrepreneurial candidates testing their skills and their messages.

Who are these big wigs? By what means are they trying to determine the GOP's candidate? Who are they backing? Why?

For God's sake, man, you're a magazine publisher! You employ Matt Labash and Robert Messenger and Jonathan Last, so I know at least part of you appreciates good journalism. So turn someone loose on this story! Spill your secrets! How can you not? Doesn't any part of you ever want to – what's the right expression here – go rogue? Capitalize on your status as an elite DC insider to tell the rest of us regular Americans what's going on? What if I play on your nostalgia: FAX it to me like the old days! Or at least tip me off to the meeting location. Or better yet, tip off Dave Weigel. He's closer.

Apparently you think these people, meeting in secret, are a nefarious influence on the selection process for possibly the next president of the United States. Does this not confer some patriotic obligation to break the story? If not this, then what? What makes you tic, sir? I confess that I do not understand. Once I worked for a man who mistakenly pronounced your last name like the champagne that Jay-Z touted, then boycotted. That always made me laugh. Then you teamed up with Lynn Cheney and Michael Goldfarb to brand lawyers who represented War on Terror detainees "The Al Qaeda 7."

Wouldn't it be more enjoyable to dazzle us with your connections in a penetrating piece of insider journalism that by your logic will increase the odds that the next leader of the free world is well chosen?