As we contemplate the latest Oval Office oil spill of venality, vulgarity, and brazen corruption, it’s hard not to pause, sigh, and wonder: What would a smarter, better educated, and less paranoid Donald Trump look like?
And now we know: Boris Johnson.
The Brexit-rattling British prime minister debates well, actually reads books, and misbehaves with a self-awareness that is disarming. He seems infinitely preferable to a president who, after so many staggering abuses of power and affronts to basic decency, tried to shake down a foreign leader for kompromat on his likeliest 2020 rival. (Two, if you count his request that China also investigate the Bidens.)
And yet: Everything Johnson has done since he took office less than three months ago—purging his Tory Party of dissidents; misleading the Queen into illegally disbanding Parliament; dangling his country over the ledge of a no-deal Brexit; and, we now learn, allegedly misallocating government funds while mayor of London in order to prop up his American (and, need we add, pole-dancing) “mistress”—makes him seem pretty much like Trump on any other day.
Johnson’s conduct is a reminder that ours is not the only democracy in disarray, and that Boris Johnson is doing his absolute best to make Britain worse. It’s so awful you need to laugh about it, and luckily, our colleague Stuart Heritage is mercilessly funny about all things—especially Boris Johnson.
Still, you don’t need to be in elected office to go off the rails, as we learned from Leah McLaren, who this week uncovers the gobsmacking folly of the Stronach dynasty, Canadian billionaires who have made their Santa Anita racetrack—where 32 Thoroughbreds have died in less than a year—unsafe for horses at any speed and now are hell-bent on destroying each other.
We needed a break from all this political slime and financial malfeasance so we sent two of our finest to Oktoberfest in Munich. Yet, amidst the lederhosen, tipsy oompah bands, and clinking beer tankards, Alexandra Marshall and Anne Philippi discovered that even this folksy event has been co-opted by the German business elite—specifically, female executives looking to “lean in,” while cinched into three-piece dirndls.
There is some good news. The record for oldest restaurant in the world may go to La Campana in Rome, which has presented new evidence – a tax receipt from 1518 – that it is almost 200 years older than the current titleholder, in Spain. Legend has it that Caravaggio ate at La Campana, and Keith Richards has, too. (Quite possibly together).
And my co-editor, Graydon Carter, has shared his playlist from the Waverly Inn, so when cable news and the Internet get too ugly, read on and, also, listen in.