Fatuous upper-class pundit watch: Successor to Collins and Dowd!


Petri has plenty of socks: So far, we’re not fans of Alexandra Petri, who now writes a weekly column in Saturday’s Washington Post.

This morning, the young scribe reminds us why. She dropped by the Wall Street protests this week. Her column starts like this:
PETRI (10/8/11): It might be too easy to dismiss the Occupy Wall Street movement as a first-world problem.

I listen to a man complain about the challenges of getting a job in the maritime industry. He is skilled. He is jobless. He is pessimistic.

Then he whips out his iPhone.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha! As she continues, Petri exhibits a first-world upper-class skill—the skill of having a thing both ways:
PETRI (continuing directly): The grumbles are many: Just because you have a liberal arts degree doesn’t entitle you to a job. Why are you protesting? Why aren’t you job-hunting? What are you doing here? Next you’ll surge into the streets to complain about the decline in the quality of organic kale!

But that would be unfair.
Ha ha ha ha ha! Oh boy! Petri calls these grumbles unfair—but not before she has entertained Post readers by turning those grumbles to jokes.

(To read her piece as it appears in the Post, click here, then click one more time.)

Tribunes of the upper class have been rolling their eyes at the protestors, just as we pseudo-liberals kept doing with the tea party folk. As Petri continues, she even uses a familiar old phrase to describe these iPhone-using organic kale adherents:
PETRI (continuing directly): I’ve seen some of these people before—at Jon Stewart’s Rally for Sanity, or the vast upswelling of Hope after the election of ’08, when we poured into the streets and cheered.
Darlings! Petri has seen “these people” before! So she says, even as she refers to these people as “we” and “us.”

In today’s column, Petri claims to speak for her generation. This is an improvement over her usual work, in which she tends to adopt the term “we” to speak for the whole nation. Just sixteen months out of Harvard, Petri believes she can speak for us all. And she has lots of jokes about the world “these people” live in:
PETRI: The occupants of Liberty Plaza are overwhelmingly young. Some border on hipsters. Some are students. Most of those I spoke to were employed. Some were “aspirationally employed.” They aren’t rebels without a cause. They’re rebels with a surplus of causes.


There's a saying: "I was angry that I had no shoes. Then I met a man who had no feet." We aren't there yet. We are angry that we have no socks. But we see what might be next.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Oh boy, that last one was good!

To date, we've had two basic reactions to Petri’s ongoing work:

The first reaction involves gender. It’s hard to imagine a man being hired to write such columns in the Post. But Petri is straight outta the Dowd/Collins line. Within upper-class press corps culture, silly, simpering remarks about pain would seem to be woman’s work.

Our second reaction involves Petri’s age. This child is one year-plus from Fair Harvard. Reading her work, we’ve been amazed that a person can become so facile and so uncaring at such an early point in life. But the rewards are now vast at the top of the heap, and facile young children pursue them.

This morning, Petri plays it both ways. She cracks her jokes about “these people,” refers to them as “us.”

Update on the Hunting Camp 7: We'll finish our series on Monday. Question:

Did witnesses contradict Perry's account? We think the Post's report is oddly unclear. Given the seriousness of the subject matter, we think the ombudsman should make it a point to explain.

Race is our most important subject. Race should not be a toy.

(With this, we return to our normal weekend duty—working on the games the Post played in 1999 and 2000. For our efforts to date, just click here.)


  1. I wonder what this young lady's definition of a "hipster" is. I haven't seen that word used in years; I remember Norman Mailer using it frequently in "Advertisements for Myself" in the early 60's. As I recall, Mailer used it to describe the "cool" urban dweller—a combination of white (beat) and black (hip) culture. I can't imagine that Petri was using the term this way. Perhaps she met Dick Gregory down on Wall Street, and he used the term. I find its use curious in her blog

  2. 'Hipster' is in currency right now, referring to the ironic, young urban set in their 20's and 30's - it's a rather offensive expression, really.

  3. One sad thing about this, is that there are talented, thoughtful writers out there who would be doing a good job in her place, and they're probably struggling to get by, while she gets money for worse-than-bad writing.

  4. Alexandra Petri is rich.

  5. I remember being extremely world weary at that time of my life with a fondness for gauloises cigarettes, although I didn't smoke.

  6. IMHO Petri has conflated two separate problems: wrong academic choices and lack of jobs. One demonstrator complained, “I did everything I was supposed to do: went to college, got good grades, participated in sports and clubs, graduated on time. 3 years later I have nothing to show for it,” Another wrote: “Everyone said when I was growing up that if I worked hard + was a good person that I could be anything I wanted to be. . . . Well I’ve worked hard + I think I’ve been a good person and I didn’t want to be . . . the 99 percent,” With student loans easily available, many young people borrowed enormous sums of money in order to get degrees in fields would not lead to high-paying jobs. They will have great difficulty paying off their college loans. They will be burdened by their outstanding loans for many years. These people are right to be bitter. IMHO these young people got bad advice from adults, especially from college advisors. That's who they should blame for their predicament.

    The other problem is that there aren't enough jobs available for all those who want to work. Even if a particular demonstrator could have done better by making a different career choice, that doesn't change the fact that millions of people have been squeezed out of the employment market. As usual, those suffering the most are minorities, especially black teen-agers. Conservatives say that Obama's policies have made things worse. Liberals say that his policies made things better than they otherwise would have been. Whichever side is right, the fact is that millions of people who want to work cannot get a job.

  7. Women don't have a monopoly on bad journalism. Apparently Lawrence O'Donnell's interview of Herman Cain
    was so digusting it even had liberals who dislike Cain screaming at their TV screen.

  8. Here's a generational thing I will just throw out. I am a codger quickly entering my dotage. I have dim memories of a world without an internet. Reporters who are 22 years old today, are probably born in 1989. The internet has been a given for most ot their lives. For me, the internet, and the iPhone which symbolizes it, is about the breaking down of barriers in communication. Famously, according to the New Yorker, no one on the internet know whether or not you are a dog. I just wonder if a reporter like Alexandra Petri, who since her formative years, has lived without the barriers, has the same sense of where those barriers once were.

  9. "Tribunes of the upper class have been rolling their eyes at the protestors,just as we pseudo-liberals kept doing with the tea party folk"


    But yeah, you're right.

  10. Ms Petri falls into a WaPo gig right out of Harvard and you expect her to be humble. Her connection to the carriage class seperated her from us proles long ago. Her precious insights reflect the experience.

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