This weekend, the Washington Post allowed a breach in the firewall between their Style and Business sections to file a story about "38-year-old lawyer and Democratic heavyweight" Bal Das, who has emerged as a key fundraising ally in Senator Hillary Clinton's quest for the Presidency. The author, former NY Observer/Atlantic stafferSridhar Pappu, is either over-the-moon for Das or angling to get a job at Portfolio, because the article is so fluffy that I plan to clip it and use it the next time I run out of dryer sheets.
The article is deeply weird for a number of reasons. Great lengths are taken to portray Das as a publicity-shy, plainspoken advocate who eschews the limelight--yet here he is, in a big ball of fuzz article in the Washington Post, giving photo copy like a pro. Discussion of his small gatherings he hosts on Clinton 's behalf strangely portray Vernon Jordan and Steven Rattner as people Clinton still needs to woo rather than members of her inner circle. He speaks of playing a part in the Clinton campaign because he worries about "What happens when my son grows? What kind of world is he inheriting?"-- but with a home that he and his wife "still keep" in Paris and a partner position at a "small, highly profitable specialty finance company...InsCap" it would seem that his son is going to fare pretty well -- even in a Duncan Hunter administration.
But what's strangest about it is how resolutely uncritical the article is about Das and the "pro quo" he's receiving for raising a considerable amount of quid. Are we to believe in the post-modern era of party politics, that this one guy isn't playing any angles? And what to make of the fact that this prominent funder isn't even capable of casting a vote for the woman for whom he stumps? Mere weeks ago, the media was at sixes and sevens over what to do about the quasi legal status of our border-jumping workforce. Is there no hay to be made here, about the permeable international border between our elections and the influence of the world outside? The Washington Post either doesn't know or doesn't care.
In fact, the only discouraging words you hear about Das come from the camp of Barack Obama, who was criticized and forced into an apology after his campaign produced a staff memo that labeled Clinton as "D-Punjab." It's an interesting reminder--days after it was reported that Obama had once again outpaced Clinton in campaign fundraising--dropped into an article about one of the men who are trying to compete with the Obama money machine. But none dare note the coincidence!
Offsetting Obama's gaffe is this paragraph, composed by the piece's author:
"Perhaps one must see Das as a throwback to an earlier age. India routinely used to make men like Das: well-educated, soft-spoken individuals born out of the nonviolent and secular revolution of Gandhi. These were men who rose above the rabble of caste and Hindu-Muslim conflict in search of a true democracy. Indeed, one could easily see him in conference with Nehru and Mountbatten in the last says of British rule or riding in the back of a car with Indira Gandhi and then-U.S. Ambassador John Kenneth Galbraith during the Kennedy years."
Take that quote to the bakery the next time you need a cake, and say, "I want the icing to be spread on at least this thick!"
For his part, Das says, "What motivates me is leaving this world better than when I found it."
Aw, shucks! We bet Rupert Murdoch told the Bancroft family the exact same thing!
A Quiet Rainmaker [Washington Post]
Money Talks - AC/DC [YouTube])
More:Eat The Press
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