I sat in the first class section of the Acela Express once from New York to Washington. I was on a book tour and the publisher was whisking me from New York to DC for events. Thomas Freidman sat diagonally from me. His single seat backed up to where the First Class Stewards worked.
First Class of the Acela Express has more to do with what is wrong with America than the Steward who works there. The New York-Washington bubble remains largely disconnected from the rest of the country. When last I made that point, Dylan Byers of the Politico tweeted along the lines of this being as preposterous as the French claiming Paris truly wasn't France. Of course, de Gaulle popularized the notion of La France profounde — that Paris really wasn't indicative of the rest of the country.
There is a disconnect. It is not everywhere nor with everyone in the NYC-DC corridor. There are people who and places that anchor themselves to the values outside what more and more people are calling the "ruling elite," but there is a disconnect that I think explains both Congress and the President's falling approval ratings (not that Congress can get much lower).
Listen to the rhetoric in Washington, DC and you learn a few things.
With a few exceptions, they're all mostly cool with the NSA spying on ordinary Americans.
Congress thinks immigration reform that will give immigrants preferential hiring status to existing Americans is the most important thing ever.
The President thinks shutting down coal power plants is the most important thing ever.
The IRS is out of control and Congress would rather bribe each other to pass immigration plans than look into it.
Oh, and the rest of America just wants a FREAKING JOB!
There is a massive disconnect between the chattering classes and politicos of Washington and New York and the rest of America. While most Americans are struggling to get ahead, both Republicans and Democrats in Washington act as though they are managing our decline.
Gun control, global warming, gay marriage, and immigration are the greatest issues of the day to those in Washington who hang around the green rooms of the various news outlets and gossip with reporters about which lobbyists are sleeping with which members of Congress.
The sage of creased pants bipartisanship, David Brooks, reports on Jesus's letter to the Corinthians. Thomas Friedman, the guru of globalism reduced to ridiculous phrases with no meaning yells at train stewards for not clearing his plate fast enough. And the Washington to New York crowd laps them all up as defining what fierce urgencies now must be dealt with.
The rest of America is nervous about where their next meal and paycheck are coming from, how they are going to afford to bail their kids out of crumbling schools, and the price of a gallon of milk and loaf of bread that keep going up though Ben Bernanke tells them there is no inflation.
Lindsey Graham and John McCain can sit in the Senate Cloakroom passing out pieces of silver to various Senators buying up their votes for their immigration scheme while Harry Reid concocts a new way to bring gun control back to the Senate floor, and Americans everywhere else will sit back and have their W.T.F. moment of the day.
Why has Washington forgotten what matters? And what the hell are Republicans even doing?