In 1927, H.L. Mencken rode by train through the Pennsylvania coal country. The houses he saw along the way were so hideous, at least in his eyes, that he was moved to pen his famous essay, “The Libido for the Ugly.” Mencken was writing about towns inhabited by coal miners and railroad brakemen, but what would he say if he were to visit present-day Washington, DC and take a stroll in its surrounding suburbs?
I’d bet the Sage of Baltimore would direct his limitless venom at the spanking-new particle-board McMansions of Washington’s New Class: the K Street lawyers, political consultants, Beltway fixers and war on terrorism profiteers who run a permanent shadow government in the nation’s capital.
There is talk of a Georgetown elite, but ever since Pamela Harriman’s death in 1997, that crowd has been as defunct as the Romanov dynasty. Georgetown has elegant but cramped townhouses with creaky floorboards, inadequate wiring and an aura of ever-so-slightly shabby gentility. Who needs that when you can buy a brand-new 12,000 square foot McMansion with cast stone lions guarding the front gate, a two-and-a-half story tall great room and a home cinema with built-in FSB ports?