Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild Is the Last True American

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 6 2014 3:26 PM

Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild Is the Last True American

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Patricians know better than to know what they're talking about in politics.

Photo by Stuart Wilson/Getty Images for WIE Symposium

Sometimes a story dribbles out after work hours, and you feel that it's been well-covered enough that you have nothing to add. Politico reported yesterday that Hillary Clinton would make her first campaign appearance of 2014 in a race it would be awkward for her not to take sides in—Marjorie Margolies' comeback bid for Congress in northeast Philadelphia and the suburbs. It was Margolies who, in 1993, cast the deciding vote for the Clinton tax package and was heckled off the floor by Republicans with calls of "Bye, bye, Margie!" It was also Margolies who brought Marc Mezvinsky into the world, where he would one day marry Chelsea Clinton. Margolies has worked this relationship for everything it's worth.

But that was not the story. The story was that the event would be hosted by Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, one of the most hilariously out-of-touch political figures of our modern time. In 2008 an angry de Rothschild took it upon herself to speak for all of the Hillary Clinton supporters who felt cheated by Barack Obama's win. She was obviously a better advocate for the PUMAs—those who rallied under the slogan of "party unity, my ass"—than the yowling and somewhat bigoted-sounding Harriet Christian, who won fame after telling the DNC's rules committee that it was "throwing the election away" by awarding delegates to an "inadequate black male." But in her own way, de Rothschild was a comedy source as pure as the spring water on Martha's Vineyard.* Some of my favorite moments from 2008:

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The post-debate interview in which Rothschild referred to "Plumber Joe" and told viewers that "My father earned $50,000 a year." (In 2012, the average income is around $10,000 less than that, and $50,000 went a lot further when de Rothschild was scraping it out on the streets.)

The time she explained the backlash she'd gotten as "I got in trouble because I said in the newspaper I love my country more than my party."

The time she corrected Wolf Blitzer on her husband's title: "He's a knight, but not to quibble."

And the time she OK'd the characterization of her views as "bitter," if it made sense to "the rednecks, or whoever."

De Rothschild is an example of what my former colleague Matt Yglesias often wrote about—rich people who have no idea what they're talking about. Neither she nor Christian seemed to have any idea how elections or electorates worked, apart from being quadrennial events that bring more politicians to their parties to ask for money. In interviews, especially after she joined the rich-idiot flypaper operation known as Americans Elect, she could talk around the basics of policy without ever seeming to know what she was talking about. (Obama had "done healthcare without dealing with the cost curve," for example.)

It was a lot of fun. It's just strange to see that fun return in an event for Hillary Clinton. The Clinton rebranders, from Media Matters to Ready for Hillary, have had nothing at all do with de Rothschild or any of the PUMAs.

*Correction, May 6, 2014: This post originally misspelled Martha's Vineyard.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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