It’s hardly news that over the past half-century the city of Washington, once described by John F. Kennedy as a community “with Northern charm and Southern efficiency,” has been transformed — some would say transmogrified — into Hollywood East.

George Clooney sightings on Capitol Hill, Tom Cruise eating peanuts in the owner’s box at Redskin games — but that’s only the half of it. What’s really changed, thanks to the impact of television and cable news, is the ga-ga elevation of mere political functionaries into five-star celebrities.

Reverse reel, back to the future: It’s February, 2009, a mere month after the inauguration of the forty-fourth president, Barack Obama. Most Americans know who his Vice President is —Joe Biden.  An even greater number know who his Secretary of State is — Hillary Clinton.  A large number can even identify the Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. But who, tell me, is this fellow Robert Gibbs? If one out of a hundred Americans could identify him two years ago, I’d have been surprised. (more…)