This Town Melts Down

Mark Leibovich is the author of the 2013 New York Times bestseller “This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral – plus plenty of valet parking – in America’s Gilded Capital.”

On Sunday July 16, he follows up with This Town Melts Down in The New York Times Magazine.

Chances are political junkies will read it, read about it or both.

I suggest both.

Perhaps there have always been calls for a third party but we now seem very close to having one, or maybe even two or three.

There are Democrats in two flavors: Pussy Hat Progressive and Don’t Be Silly.

Republicans are divided between The Base and Holy Shit.

Morning Joe co-host, Joe Scarborough, recently exited the Holy Shit wing of the Republican party in favor of None of the Above.

None of the four factions has a majority and, if a second choice were offered, Disgusted would show well.

When I read his story, I tried to decide if Leibovich was snarky or nasty. I think he is both but he moves back and forth between the two, sort of like the debate about whether Trump is a psychopath or a sociopath. Since few of us really know the differences between the two pairs of words, you might as well go with “both” for each pair.

What is not in doubt is that Leibovich is accurate. What is also beyond doubt is that reactions to the story will depend entirely on which wing of which party you call home.

Is Leibovich a Pussy Hat Progressive or a Don’t Be Silly? I am not sure, but it doesn’t really matter. He is definitely not a Holy Shit or he would have depicted the current situation more as an extension of prior Washington conduct – okay a substantial extension – rather than a phenomenon that appeared from nowhere descending the escalator of Trump Tower.

Read his story, watch him on the talk shows as Trump critics suck up to him or Base commanders attack him. Neither group will be discussing anything that matters; they only care about his impact on the preferred narrative. He didn’t care about anything that mattered either or, if he did, he did not include it in the story.

Imagine the kind of person who thrives on reporting and writing this story. Imagine the contrast between what he had to do to get people to talk with him and then what he did to them.

Then imagine that Mark Leibovich is not an outlier. This town is full of them.


The process is easy... First name, last name, email address and you are in. You will receive an email when a story is posted.

Subscribe now

Haven Pell

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

View all posts


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • I hope I live long enough to see the Chinese Fire Drill which Congress conducts when Social Security and Medicare crater. The spineless weasels in both parties will have to step up and do something. God forbid they should show a little courage and take a stitch in time early. I”ll read the Leibovich piece. Sounds interesting.

      • There are a few Cassandra’s trying to get the attention of their colleagues and the American people, but not enough. My suspicion is that the congressmen and women are incapable of doing fourth grade math which would explain their inaction. When the New deal programs melt down , and they will melt down, the hand wringing and breathless recriminations will be delicious to watch. Then Congress will need to take a chain saw to spending just to survive. They could use a little scalpel now and with some nips and tucks make some real progress.

        • I think they can do the math but their sole priority is getting reelected. The recriminations will happen to the next guy.

  • It seems everyone senses an eventual meltdown. It looks like it will be debt, again. China and Japan are at about 250% public debt vs. annual GDP. All the Euro countries are very high as well. The U.S. is toying with 100%. And it all keeps going up. Corporate debt has risen since the
    Fed started handing out free money.

    Who can stop this? Trump? Xi? Ryan? Macron? Corbyn? Abe? Sean Hannity? David Brooks?
    Ross Douthat? David Ignatius? Joe Scarborough?

    All fear nobody can stop it. But one fellow, whose country has little debt, will enjoy the DemosMelt (as opposed to a Tunamelt.)

    His name is Vladimir Putin.

  • I’m excited to see Scarborough jumping out in front of this. Regardless of his motivations it shows that a 3rd party and also renouncing hyper-partisan versions of Left or Right is “marketable.” If he can prove this out others will follow. We are in a time when individuals, brands and orgs can use their own platforms. E.g. Joe Scarborough is not reliant upon establishment for success. He can have his own YouTube channel, website, etc. to prove viability.

      • God I hope not. That’s certainly the dark side of marketability… However, I think there is a certain barrier to entry and know-how. The recent mutterings of Kid Rock running for a seat in 2018 in Michigan is horrifying. Plato’s Philosopher Kings will truly be relegated to the past if they haven’t already been.