|The life of the Seventh Floor? Who knew.|
There was a spate of overheated stories yesterday about personnel changes at high levels in the State Department, most of them repeating the New York Post's "bloodbath" headline, and none of which I found very interesting. But then there was this conservative website's take on the basic story (Secretary Rex Tillerson Begins Deconstructing 7th Floor “Shadow Government” at Dept of State) which went off on a weird tangent about what someone evidently imagines is the Imperial lifestyle of our own Panem on the Potomac. Here's a quote:
They live a life of high financed indulgence including: massive expense accounts, chartered airline travel, swanky cocktail parties, expense chauffeurs to take their kids to private school, seasonally designed home decor – appointed by only the very best interior designers, personal security to keep the commoners away, tickets to the best venues and reserved seating at elite DC restaurants.
With first rights to the budget expenditures, the 7th floor group finds no indulgence too extravagant for their intellectual elitism. They demand nothing but the finest because they are the most worthy of the DC professionally privileged – who are more equal than others; and after all, their jobs require them to host and visit like-minded diplomats, and celebrities with exclusive tastes from around the world.
How's that again? People on this fabulous 7th floor have massive expense accounts? Maybe that's what M&IE stands for. Chartered airline travel? Does a Black Hawk count? Chauffeurs? Only in fully armored cars.
I could possibly believe all of those things, but I'm calling BS on the fabulous decor. I've been to a few meetings on the 7th floor, and I didn't see any evidence that the very best interior decorators had been involved with the place. But then, maybe they keep that decor in some fancy part of the floor where they don't allow the likes of me.
And what is that bit about having "first rights to the budget expenditures?" I'm afraid that many of my fellows citizens have no idea whatsoever of how the government works, and especially not how funds get appropriated by Congress, or even that there is a budget. There are people - voters - who really suppose that when some government big-shot wants to spend money he calls over to the Treasury and asks them to run the hundred dollar bill press for an extra hour that day while he fills up a truck.
It makes me curious where that perception comes from. From movies and television, of course, because that's where most people get all their information. But exactly which movies and TV shows?
I'm drawing a blank here, because I'm not a big consumer of pop media. Are government leaders regularly depicted as "living a life of high financed indulgence?" Do people think the Hunger Games is a documentary? When did the popular stereotype of a government office change from dreary and cheap to decadent and luxurious?
Lastly, have there been any movie or TV depictions of U.S. Embassy life that were even remotely in the ballpark of reality?