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August 31, 2017

ROD DREHER ON SALLY QUINN, GEORGETOWN’S MADAME BLAVATSKY:

We are long, long past the day when Sally Quinn and her late husband Ben Bradlee, the legendary Washington Post editor, were arbiters of Washington social life. But Quinn, now in her mid-70s, has found a way to keep her name in public. In this delicious Washingtonian profile by Michelle Cottle, Quinn outs herself as an occultist. No, really. And there’s more:

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Ouija boards, astrological charts, palm reading, talismans—Quinn embraces it all. And yes, she has been in contact with her husband since his passing. Through a medium. Repeatedly.

Some friends have voiced reservations that Quinn is now showing all her cards, so to speak. “Don’t play up the voodoo too much,” one implored. But Sally does nothing by halves. She reveals that, in her less mellow days, she put hexes on three people who promptly wound up having their lives ruined, or ended.

The first, cast in 1969, was spurred by old-fashioned jealousy. Some exotic beauty at a Halloween party inspired lust in Quinn’s beau at the time—and then killed herself just days after Sally cast her spell.

Her second victim was Clay Felker, the longtime editor of New York magazine who oversaw a brutal profile of Quinn in 1973, just before her catastrophic debut on the CBS Morning News. Quinn hexed Felker not long after flaming out at CBS and returning to Washington. “Some time afterward, Rupert Murdoch bought New York magazine in a hostile takeover, and Felker was out,” she writes. “Clay never recovered professionally. Worse, he got cancer, which ultimately caused his death.”

Target number three: a shady psychic who, the autumn after Quinn Bradlee was born, ran afoul of Sally’s maternal instincts. The woman dropped dead before year’s end.

As Zhou Enlai never said, the outcome of the French Revolution? Too soon to tell. Just a reminder: the Post mocked Richard Nixon for the relatively mild mysticism of talking to the White House paintings, and Nancy Reagan for her interest in astrology. It reported that Hillary talked to ghosts while First Lady. It smeared evangelical conservatives as “poor, undereducated and easily led.” Meanwhile, the wife of the Maximum Editor of the Washington Post was playing with Ouija boards and putting hexes on her enemies. The disparity is reminiscent of a passage in Michael Graham’s Redneck Nation:

After a set at a hotel in Washington State, I was dragged into a long, drawn-out discussion with a graying, balding New Ager who just couldn’t get over my evangelical background. “You seem so smart,” he kept saying. “How could you buy into that stuff?”

Here’s a guy wearing a crystal around his neck to open up his chakra, who thinks that the spirit of a warrior from the lost city of Atlantis is channeled through the body of a hairdresser from Palm Springs, and who stuffs magnets in his pants to enhance his aura, and he finds evangelicalism an insult to his intelligence. I ask you: Who’s the redneck?

Come to think of it, I’m not sure if this guy—who believed in reincarnation, ghostly hauntings, and the eternal souls of animals—actually believed in God. It’s not uncommon for Northerners, especially those who like to use the word “spirituality,” to believe in all manner of metaphysical events, while not believing in the Big Guy. “Religious” people go to church and read the Bible, and Northerners view them as intolerant, ill-educated saps. “Spiritual” people go hiking, read Shirley MacLaine or L. Ron Hubbard, and are considered rational, intelligent beings.

Exit quote from the Washingtonian profile on Quinn: “‘You can’t imagine the number of people who have asked me to put a hex on Donald Trump—I mean, I have got friends lined up,’ she says. ‘This is my biggest restraint now.'”

Well, that’s a relief. To paraphrase Thomas Sowell, I’m glad to know that there are at least some limits on those particular visions of the anointed.