I would say it’s not a good idea to get lit when you are having an on the record lunch with a reporter. You might say things that make you look silly. Take Charles Murray, for instance:
The Gavi is going down fast. By now, Murray is positively convivial. “I don’t think this is the gin talking … but I want to be briefly more optimistic,” Murray declares. He discloses that he sometimes plays poker at a casino in Charles Town, West Virginia, and that he will, in fact, head over there after our lunch has finished. “The ways in which it reinvigorates your confidence in America is really interesting,” Murray says.
“I remember sitting at a table a couple of months ago. And at a poker table there’s lots of camaraderie. And so here I am at a typical table at Charles Town. Big guys with lots of tattoos, sleeveless T-shirts, one of them an accountant, the other looks like he comes from a gang. There was an Iranian-American and Afghan-American. Incredible polyglot mix of people – all speak perfect idiomatic English – and the conversation turned to the fact that my daughter was going to marry an Italian. ‘Well, do you trust him?’ they said. ‘You know, you can’t trust those Italians.’”
Murray guffaws at the recollection. “The thing is, it was such an American conversation,” he says. What would they say if he told them he had just eaten truffles in an Italian restaurant with the Financial Times? “Oh, I think they would be very amused,” he replies. “The thing is, I would like to take these parents who insist their children go to the best preschools and then Yale, etc, etc, and grab them by the scruff of their necks and take them to the Charles Town poker room and say, ‘These people are really fun and smart, and [your children] are missing all of that.’”
OK, I reply, but it now sounds as though he is saying the upper classes need to learn from everyone else, rather than the other way round. There is a tension between his hope that the rest of America will ape the elites, and his less than complimentary views about them. “Look, this may be the alcohol talking but I want the elites to fall in love again with what is so wonderful about America,” Murray replies.