Correction to This Article
The Magazine Reader column in the Sept. 12 Style section incorrectly identified the McLean private school that auctions off the naming rights to its private road. It is the Country Day School, not the Potomac School.
The Magazine Reader

Georgetown Is Over: McLean Is The Hot Spot, Says New Republic

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By Peter Carlson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Listen up, all you Beltway bashers, you populist polemicists, you anti-plutocrat rabble-rousers: It turns out you've been lobbing your rhetorical cannonballs at the wrong target!

While you've been denouncing elitist "Georgetown dinner parties" all these years, a new elite has taken over -- and it lives across the river, in McLean. Ooops!

The cover story in the newest New Republic makes it official: "So long Georgetown, McLean is the new home of America's ruling class."

Over the past decade, McLean, formerly a sleepy little burg, has been overrun by hordes of Republican pols, pundits and lobbyists. McLean has become "the psychic center of the Washington Republican establishment," writes Michael Crowley. "It is packed with the people who impeached Bill Clinton, elected George W. Bush, launched the Iraq war, and have now learned to make millions from their association with government."

McLean's 40,000 residents include GOP bigwigs such as Newt Gingrich, Scooter Libby, Colin Powell, Andrew Card, Liz Cheney, Bill Kristol, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia -- and scads of obscure Republicans who were Hill staffers in the Gingrich revolution and are now raking in big bucks as lobbyists, thus enabling them to afford to live in a town where the average house sells for $905,000.

Georgetown is still a swell place, of course, but its power has faded with the demise of the liberal Democrats who made it famous for dinner parties where John Kenneth Galbraith entertained Pamela Harriman with bon s mots.

"The migration of power from Georgetown to McLean represents the shift in American politics in microcosm," Crowley writes. "The Northeastern liberal elite drawn to the urbane sophistication of Georgetown has receded. In its place has risen a new conservative striver class . . . that has set itself up as landed gentry across the Potomac in McLean."

These rich Republicans don't want to buy venerable-but-understated 18th-century Georgetown houses with creaky staircases and ancient plumbing. No, Republicans prefer something a little more like . . . the palace at Versailles.

Edwina Rogers -- a former Bush White House aide and the wife of Ed Rogers, a former Reagan aide now lobbying for Eli Lilly, Lorillard Tobacco Co. and the government of Qatar -- gave Crowley a tour of Surry Hill, her 18,000-square-foot McLean mega-mansion. "Edwina doesn't know the total number of rooms in Surry Hill," Crowley writes, "but an elevator services the house's three floors. Upstairs, Edwina's bathroom (one of eight) features a small fireplace by the tub . . . "

But Rogers is proudest of her private art gallery and its extensive collection. "We do a lot of lobbying for foreign governments," she tells Crowley. "I just can't imagine any country we haven't gotten a piece from."

Building palaces with money made shilling for foreign governments. Is that how Republicans became the party of patriotism?

One of McLean's few prominent Democrats, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, hates these gaudy new "McMansions." He describes them to Crowley as "pretentious, pompous, much too large for the typical family of two adults and one child -- plus the requisite visiting divorce lawyer."


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