You know, sometimes a story comes along that’s just so exquisitely absurd that it feels like someone has secretly fitted us with electrodes during the night and recorded the most outrageous of our feverish political dreams.
“I was honored to be invited to attend the First State Dinner hosted by President Obama & the First Lady to honor India,” Michaele Salahi wrote on her Facebook page. By “invited” she meant, of course, “not invited.”
Such was the case with the recent media feeding frenzy generated by Fauquier County cuckoo birds Tareq and Michaele Salahi, whose unbridled lust for reality TV fame initially led them to crash a White House state dinner, and then afforded them the opportunity to appear on national television and bask in the idiocy of their (possibly criminal) actions. Ain’t democracy grand?
As the Salahis’ tale became more and more convoluted (Tareq had been sued by his own parents over the family winery! Michaele had apparently lied about being a Washington Redskins cheerleader!), we soon realized that this conniving couple was actually a walking, stalking metaphor for the entire sad, striving enterprise that is American politics. In fact, the more we thought about it, the more we realized that the Salahis’ defining characteristics could easily be applied to any number of prominent Virginia politicos. What’s worse, these status-obsessed wannabes aren’t just angling for a spot on “The Real Housewives of Washington, D.C.,” they’re running our government!
Failing upwards. This is a classic D.C.-area dynamic, and one practiced by more elected and appointed officials than we can count. But our favorite has to be U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, who has used his position as House Minority Whip to launch all kinds of unimpressive initiatives and failed leadership groups (National Council for a New America, anyone?), while providing little in the way of, you know, actual accomplishments. And yet, just as Tareq Salahi managed to spin a bankrupt winery into a handshake with the president, so too does Eric Cantor manage to keep his name at the top of many lists of possible 2012 presidential nominees. How he does it, we’ll never know. Maybe it’s the chin.
Try, try again. As everyone knows, simple tenacity is often the best weapon against an entrenched opposition. And, like the indefatigable Salahis, a good politician knows that “no” is just the first word in an ongoing negotiation. That’s why it comes as no surprise to us that 2009’s highest-spending primary loser, Terry McAuliffe, appears to be laying the groundwork for another run at Virginia’s top job.
Of course, the Macker’s reported attempts to lure an auto factory to Southern Virginia could be something he’s just doing out of the goodness of his heart, with no regard for his own political career at all. And Michaele Salahi was once a Washington Redskins cheerleader. Really.
Opportunism rules. Finally, we turn to the case of Del. Dave Marsden, who recently won an uncontested primary to become the Democratic state senate nominee for Virginia’s 37th district. The only problem? Marsden doesn’t actually live in the 37th district. (Although he rents a room there, and has assured the Washington Post that “he has slept there for several nights.”) Add to that the fact that Marsden served in Republican Gov. Jim Gilmore’s administration, and previously helped elect Republican office-holders Jim Dillard and Ken Cuccinelli, and you have a level of political opportunism that would make even the Salahis blush.
If they were capable of blushing, that is.