Saturday, June 24, 2023

"Swamp Freaks: Bizarre Adventures in a Grifter's Paradise"

From Elliott Management-backed (Paul Singer) Washington Free Beacon, June 24:

REVIEW: 'The Big Break: The Gamblers, Party Animals, and True Believers Trying to Win in Washington While America Loses Its Mind'

"Can the senator's penis please be off the record?"  

This remarkable sentence, uttered by a panicked press aide after his boss, the seven-fingered Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.), relieved himself in an organic pea field during an interview with Washington Post journalist Ben Terris, hardly stands out among the array of mind-boggling details recounted in Terris's new book, The Big Break: The Gamblers, Party Animals, and True Believers Trying to Win in Washington While America Loses Its Mind.

Tester's rogue member is merely an aside in this collection of profiles highlighting the unelected power players who survived, thrived, and failed in national politics since Donald Trump annihilated the status quo, violating precious "norms" left and right. Washington may have "felt different" during the Trump presidency, Terris writes, but The Swamp proved as resilient as ever. Rather than being drained as promised, it simply "filled up with new creatures." And, boy, are they something to behold. The Big Break is not for the faint of heart or stomach.

The book opens in December 2021. Leah Hunt-Hendrix, the 38-year-old granddaughter of billionaire oil tycoon H.L. Hunt, is throwing a holiday party at her $2.2 million Victorian mansion in a trendy Washington neighborhood. Her beloved Maltipoo, named after Malcolm X, roams the living room floor scrounging for crumbs. Ryan Grim, editor of The Intercept, is wearing a Harriet Tubman T-shirt and chatting with the half-brother of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. The host is trying to gin up support for Mandela Barnes, the left-wing Wisconsin Senate candidate she met at a pool party in Miami around the same time he accused the her grandfather's industry of "destroying the world." He was "riding in one of those inflatable unicorns."

This is normal.

Before moving to D.C., Hunt-Hendrix summered in the West Bank while getting her Ph.D. in religion, ethics, and politics at Princeton under Cornell West. Now she's a professional progressive activist and fundraiser who primarily backs candidates who pledge to abolish the fossil fuel industry. She worries that people are only interested in her because of her family's money, which they obviously are. She's considering adopting a child or writing a memoir about her love life. "I'm pretty anti-elite," the oil heiress tells Terris while sipping a matcha latte....

....MUCH MORE, he's just getting started in what appears to be an even-handed dish-fest.