Magazine article The New Yorker

"In" Crowd

Magazine article The New Yorker

"In" Crowd

Article excerpt

"I have a theory that life is junior high," Tom Brokaw said last week, roaming the stage of the Metropolitan Ballroom at the Sheraton. "Everybody's trying to get to the right tables, hang out with the right crowd, say the right things, and emerge saying they're part of the 'in' group." He was speaking to perhaps the world's ultimate "in" group, an audience of C.E.O.s, celebrities, and heads of state assembled for the fourth annual Clinton Global Initiative, and yet he seemed intent on demonstrating the hierarchical subtleties of name-dropping. He began coaxing his fellow-panelists to the platform for a discussion of energy policy: among them Shimon Peres ("my friend"), T. Boone Pickens ("I like to be able to order around Texas moguls"), the Danish politician Helle Thorning-Schmidt ("in that remarkably small country"), and Gavin Newsom ("I'll have to overlook him--I have a daughter and a son-in-law and a granddaughter living in San Francisco, and I don't want their property taxes to go up").

Brokaw was wearing a yellow Livestrong bracelet on his right wrist, which connected him, of course, to Lance Armstrong, who, the day before, on the same stage, had referred to "my good friend Bono," who in turn gave a shout-out to "this great man, Muhammad Ali," and then impersonated his pal Warren Buffett. (He drew polite laughter by adopting a Midwestern twang: " 'Don't appeal to the conscience of America. Appeal to the greatness of America, and I think you'll get the job done.' ") Backstage, we learned from the Jordanian Queen Rania al-Abdullah's Slate diary, Armstrong and the Queen had "exchanged notes on the joys and aches of running." And so the C.G.I. resembled a live-action Facebook network (Illuminati, Class of 2008), complete with status updates (John McCain: "As of this morning I am suspending my campaign") and declarations of shared interests (Armstrong: "I happen to be a real fan of magnolia trees, and I found out that so is the President").

Across town, at the Council on Foreign Relations, mutual assured camaraderie reigned as well. The Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, responded to a question about Iran from the veteran U.N. correspondent Evelyn Leopold by asking, "Do you still smoke?" Then he said, "I talked to Henry Kissinger this morning"--who presumably was still marvelling over his photo-op initiation of Sarah Palin into the global elite. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.