Daily Archives: April 25, 2010

Joe

Surely the facts are not in dispute.

“Joseph Alsop was born into a socially prominent family in Avon, Connecticut; the son of Joseph Wright Alsop IV (1876-1953) and his wife Corinne Douglas Robinson (1886-1971). His mother was the niece of Theodore Roosevelt, as her mother (Joseph’s grandmother), Corinne Roosevelt Robinson, was Roosevelt’s sister. Thus, Joseph and his brother Stewart were the great-nephews of Theodore Roosevelt. His mother was also related to President James Monroe.
Alsop was educated at Groton (class of 1928) and Harvard (class of 1932). After graduating from Harvard, Alsop became a reporter, then an unusual career for someone with an Ivy League education. He began his career with the New York Herald Tribune, which after three years sent him to Washington, D.C. to cover the Senate.
Because of his family ties to the Roosevelts, Alsop soon became well-connected in Franklin Roosevelt’s Washington. By 1936 the Saturday Evening Post had awarded him a contract to write about politics with fellow journalist Turner Catledge. Two years later, the North American News Alliance contracted Alsop and Robert E. Kintner to write a nationally-syndicated column on a daily basis. In 1940, the two moved from the NANA to the New York Herald Tribune.
The following year, after it had become clear that the United States would soon enter World War II, Alsop and Kintner suspended their column and volunteered for the armed forces. Alsop entered the Navy and used his political connections to be assigned to Claire Chennault’s American Volunteer Group, later famous as the Flying Tigers, while the group was training at Toungoo, Burma. While on a supply mission for Chennault in December 1941, Alsop was interned at Hong Kong by the Japanese. Repatriated on the neutral liner Gripsholm, he rejoined Chennault in Kunming, China and served with him for the rest of the war.
After the war, Alsop resumed writing his column, this time working with his brother Stewart Alsop on a thrice-weekly piece called “Matter of Fact”. The use of the word “fact” was not accidental; Alsop’s memoir makes clear that he prided himself on producing a column which was based on facts, on solid reporting, rather than simply on the settled opinions of the columnist.
While his brother remained headquartered in Washington to cover domestic politics, Joseph traveled the world, covering foreign affairs. As for their political inclinations, the Alsops once described themselves as “Republicans by inheritance and registration, and … conservatives by political conviction.” Their partnership lasted from 1945 to 1958, when Joseph took over sole possession of “Matter of Fact”, writing it until his retirement in 1974.”

And furthermore —

“Despite his identity as a conservative and a Republican, Alsop was an early supporter of the presidential ambitions of Democrat John F. Kennedy and became a close friend and influential adviser to Kennedy after his election in November 1960. Alsop was a vocal supporter of America’s involvement in Vietnam, a fact that subsequently led to bitter breaks with many of his liberal friends and a decline in the influence of his column as well.”

True. However it should also be note that Alsop despised Joe McCarthy and all that McCarthyism stood for. He belived in Americ and the capitalist system, but not in a reflexive, unformed knee-jerk way. He wanted to convince opponents through rational argument — not sub-adolescent bloviating.

a fortiori

“Alsop kept his homosexuality private, though in the 1950s the KGB photographed him in a hotel room in Moscow with another man and later disseminated the photographs to contacts in the United States.”

The fact that the dissemination of such photos did nothing to harm Alsop’s power and prestige had nothing to dowith the fact that his friends and employers “didn’t care” (as the meme would have it) , but rather that he was far too powerful — and valuable to the Powers That Were — to be destroyed through the sort of scandal that might well have killed a less important man.

Please note that —

“He was married from 1960 to 1972 to Susan Mary Patten (née Jay), the widow of William Patten, an American diplomat who was one of Alsop’s friends. By this marriage he had two stepchildren, William and Anne.”

Well he didn’t have them. Her previous husband did. And as you will; note from the date of the marriage this wasn’t done ot answer the Mosco incident. Gay men of his generation, and social standing, often had what were called “New York Marriages.”

“Joseph Alsop was at work on a memoir when he died. His collaborator, Adam Platt, helped Alsop create I’ve Seen the Best of It — a vivid and richly informative tale, which sheds light on the character and action of many public figures, John Kennedy among them.”

Haven’t read that one. Wonder if it has anything in it about Frank Merlo

Frank

who Joe had prior to Tennessee.

Or if it references his famous quip “I knew The City and The Pillar with the original cast.”

There’s a really good biography of Joe and his equally illustrious brother Stuart that I highly reccomend called Taking on the World

And now I’m sure you;re wondering “Why are you telling me all this?”

Well here’s the reason: This NYT hagiographic horrorshow by Mark Leibovich of Mike Allen (which I’ve thoughtfully read and encapsulated so you don’t have to.)

“Playbook is an insider’s hodgepodge of predawn news, talking-point previews, scooplets, birthday greetings to people you’ve never heard of, random sightings (“spotted”) around town and inside jokes. It is, in essence, Allen’s morning distillation of the Nation’s Business in the form of a summer-camp newsletter.”

Very Low Camp, needless to say.

“Pfeiffer tells Allen the message that the Obama administration is trying to “drive” that morning ­— “drive” being the action verb of choice around the male-dominated culture of Politico, a three-year-old publication, of which the oft-stated goal is to become as central to political addicts as ESPN is to sports junkies.”

How butch.

“Political insiderdom — or the illusion thereof — has moved from Georgetown salons or cordoned-off security zones to a mass e-mail list administrated by a never-married 45-year-old grind known as Mikey.”

“He bursts in and out of parties, at once manic and serene, chronically toting gifts, cards and flower arrangements that seem to consume much of an annual income that is believed to exceed $250,000. Allen — who is childless and owns no cars or real estate — perpetually picks up meal and beverage tabs for his friend-sources (the dominant hybrid around Mikey). He kisses women’s hands and thanks you so much for coming, even though the party is never at his home, which not even his closest friends have seen. It is as if Mikey is the host of one big party, and by showing up anywhere in Washington, you have served the Playbook community and are deserving of the impresario’s thanks (or “Hat Tip” in Playbookese).”

Oh surely someone’s seen his home — street hustlers, soignee “rent-boys.” But Leibovich and the NYT aren’t about to go there.

“I should disclose a few things: I have known Mike Allen for more than a decade. We worked together at The Washington Post, where I spent nine years and where I came to know VandeHei and Harris. We all have the same friends and run into each other a lot, and I have told them how much I admire what they have achieved at Politico. I like them all. “

Well isn’t that special ?
And make no mistake — Mike Allen’s to be taken seriously because —

“Readers describe their allegiance with a conspicuous degree of oversharing. “I definitely read it in bed,” Katie Couric told me. “Doesn’t everybody read it in bed?” Margaret Carlson, a columnist for Bloomberg News and the Washington editor at large for The Week magazine, said in a video tribute to Allen for his 45th birthday party last June. (For the record, the Republican lobbyist and party hostess Juleanna Glover said in the video that she reads Playbook “in my boudoir and while I’m blow-drying my hair.”)

See how essential Mikey is?

“No shortage of friends will testify to Mikey’s thoughtful gestures, some in the extreme. They involve showing up at a friend’s son’s baseball game (in South Carolina) or driving from Richmond to New York to visit a fraternity brother and heading back the same night (dropping off the morning New York tabloids to friends in Richmond). When Watkins lost his grandfather, Allen appeared at the funeral in Kaysville, Utah, and filed a “pool report” for Watkins’s friends and family.”

How nice.

“He attends a nondenominational Protestant church and a Bible-study group. During the George W. Bush presidency, which Allen covered for The Post, he drew closer to some people in the administration through worship. “He is one of the most thoughtful people I have ever met,” Josh Deckard, a former White House press aide, says. “Philippians 2:3 said, ‘In humility, consider others better than yourselves,’ and I think Mike exemplifies that better than anyone.”

IOW, he’s nothing like this creep.

MD

He’s a lot closer to —

Kevin

But without the blonde

Mike

“Yet even Allen’s supposed confidants say that there is a part of Mikey they will never know or even ask about. He is obsessively private. He has given different dates to different friends for the date of his birthday.”

Yeah we get the picture.

Allen has achieved a merger of life and work, family and Playbook. He is deeply committed to his mother, younger brother, two younger sisters and eight nieces and nephews scattered on both coasts. They make Playbook cameos. He describes Harris and VandeHei as his two closest friends. Both are fiercely protective of Mikey and are students of him. “I’ve always felt he just, like, operates at levels that I couldn’t even begin to fathom with my simple Wisconsin mind,” says VandeHei, an Oshkosh native.

Now don’t you go troubling your Wisconsin Mind about Mikey!

In a recent phone call, I asked Allen what his hobbies were. He paused, went off the record and then came back with an unrevealing sound bite. “I’m a well-rounded person,” he said, “who is interested in the community, interested in family, interested in sports, interested in the arts, interested in restaurants.”

Translation: “I’M AS GAY AS A DISNEY COW BUT PLEASE DON’T OUT ME!!!!!”

Forget it Mikey. Not everyone’s fooled by the fake decorum of the NYT. As a Salon reader “flypsyde” notes —

“Mike Allen is yet another self hating, closet case Beltway insider media freak. Seems to me all these D.C. homos (and I’m one of the club–homo, not D.C.–so I can say that!)find covering and wallowing in politics a perfect place to live in the closet as a subservient ass kisser to those in power, thus filling that empty place inside of themselves that always feels less than.
If powerful, popular, well known people like me and talk to me, then I MUST BE OK!!!!!!
Except Allen is pathetic, and a cause as well as emblem of all that is wrong with D.C.
Sad and gross.”

And that was in response to a would-be take-down by Salon‘s Gabriel Winant, who declares

“Allen probably is the nice guy everybody says he is, and I’m not trying to be cruel.”

— before decrying the trivial crap he writes. What Winant doesn’t get into is how Mike became the Beltway’s J.J.

— when he’s really a “kinder, gentler” Sidney.

“Like a lot of reporters, Allen would much rather ask the questions than answer them. He led off with one: “What’s the most surprising thing you learned about me?”
It was what I learned about his father, I told him. Gary Allen was an icon of the far right in the 1960s and 1970s. He was affiliated with the John Birch Society and railed against the “big lies” that led to the United States’ involvement in World Wars I and II. He denounced the evils of the Trilateral Commission and “Red Teachers.” Rock’n’roll was a “Pavlovian Communist mind-control plot.” He wrote speeches for George Wallace, the segregationist governor of Alabama and presidential candidate. “Gary Allen is one of the most popular writers that John Birchites read and believe with a zeal that is nervous-making,” wrote Nicholas von Hoffman in a 1972 Washington Post column. He wrote mail-order books and pamphlets distributed through a John Birch mailing list.”

Aha! Have we drawn blood?

“After I mentioned his father at breakfast, Allen flashed a sudden, teeth-clenched smile that stayed frozen as I spoke.”

Typical.

“I asked Mike Allen what it was like being his father’s son. “We have a very close family,” he said slowly. “I’m very close to all my siblings, and I’m very grateful to my parents for all the emphasis they put on education and family and sports and Scouts.” He called his father “a great dad.” How did he make his living? “I don’t know the details of it,” Allen said. He did some teaching, but Allen said he was not sure where or what age groups, whether elementary school or high school or something else. He had an office at home. “To me, he was my dad. So that’s what I knew.” He says he never read anything his father wrote. “

If that’s your story, Mikey,you stick to it!

After some fidgety minutes, I asked Allen how he became an Eagle Scout. His eyes softened and stopped blinking as much as they had been, and his voice took on the cadence of solemn recital. He uttered the Boy Scout Law: “A scout is trustworthy,” Allen proclaimed, “loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.”

Well y’all know the Boy Scouts’ Motto: “Be Prepared For Sexual Molestation Lawsuits”

Oh what a world! Ever-so glad Joe Alsop’s not around to see this.

Sing us out Rufus.