Paul Ryan Wine Accuser Susan Feinberg Clams Up
Byron York had some not unreasonable questions for Susan Feinberg, the woman who confronted Paul Ryan over $350 wine he consumed at a Capitol Hill restaurant. She won't answer.
On Saturday, I sent Feinberg an email asking a few questions about the incident and about her unhappiness with Ryan. First, the photo she snapped of Ryan and two men sitting a few tables away appeared to be taken from her own table, and on that table was a bottle of wine. (Feinberg told TPM that she and her husband had shared a “bottle of great wine.”) A check of the Bistro Bis wine list — in much the way that Feinberg did at the restaurant — shows that the wine was a Thierry et Pascale Matrot 2005 Meursault, which is $80 per bottle at Bistro Bis. Was that, in fact, Feinberg’s bottle of wine?
I asked Feinberg, an economist, what price constituted outrageous in her mind. Would she have been as upset if Ryan’s wine were $150 a bottle? Or $100 a bottle? Or perhaps $80 a bottle, like her own — which is, after all, more than a day’s labor for a worker making the minimum wage.
If the problem was not just the wine’s cost, then what other factors were involved in Feinberg’s anger? Was it because she thought Rep. Ryan was a hypocrite for drinking expensive wine while recommending reduced spending on Medicare and Medicaid? Was it because she believed Rep. Ryan was corrupt for drinking with two men she suspected were lobbyists? And finally, did Feinberg believe she behaved appropriately in the matter? Would it be appropriate for a conservative who felt strongly about, say, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, or Rep. Barney Frank, to do something similar to them under similar circumstances?
My instinct was that the $80 bottle was actually among the cheapest on the menu. But the Thierry et Pascale Matrot is a white Burgundy and actually among the more expensive of that varietal on the restaurant’s wine list.
Regardless, a perfectly reasonable set of questions for a professor who went out of her way to make a scene at a nice restaurant and then turn this into a minor Internet sensation by forwarding the photo and a sensationalistic story to Talking Points Memo.
Feinberg’s response was brief: “I’m sorry. I have no comment on this.”
Well, that’s certainly more decorous than I’d have expected given what little I know of her comportment. But rather odd that she suddenly doesn’t want to discuss the story she brought up.