Posts Tagged 'Washington DC'

Das Capital

Raise the star-spangled banner and absolutely keep off the grass: Welcome to D.C.

Everything looks better in Black and White

Everything looks better in Black and White

Feeling much, much better this morning, ‘Toons and I were packed up by about half eleven and headed to the Capital. Of course, without the benefit of the day I had to give up to the lurgy, we had to keep things a bit whistle-stop, but in the process I got a totally unexpected and hugely interesting insight into the administrative process of the Greatest Argument on Earth. A cousin of ‘Toons had tagged along with us, and he happened to know a chap who worked in Cannon House, which meant that, after my usual trouble involving metal detectors and belts, I got to take a look at what a lot of tourists don’t see: the actual machinations of Congress. The chap who accompanied us on the often-dizzying underground network of tunnels that branch out, labyrinthine, under the streets of the legislative Hill was an intelligent, articulate, and clearly passionate guy who was currently trying his damndest to deal with the red-hot public healthcare bill crawling its way through the system.

‘It’s a monster,’ he said, ‘we’ve got a bill going in last night at 11pm – we’re sitting every day at the minute, every day – going in at 800 pages and coming out with 1200… I read the first 340 pages, but…’ I ventured the opinion that perhaps treating legislation as a sort of high-speed tennis deathmatch might not be conducive to long-term results, to which he performed a sort of all-body shrug and said ‘it’s just too fast, it’s all moving too fast’. Certainly there was a pervasive bustle in the air, and a lot of harried-looking folk in suits, despite the sweltering humidity. I hope they’re tailored to be breathable.

In Cannon House, each of the four sides of the quadrangle holds offices for State Representatives. So at some point Arnold Schwarzenegger has had his name – and might still? I think he’s still in office – on one of those brassy plates. Which makes me happy. Edit: Whoooops, Mr. Terminator is, of course, a Governor. My bad. Walking past Michele ‘Crazy Eyes’ Bachmann‘s name, though – less so. ‘The heck, Minnesota? =(

Each room in Cannon House is pretty interesting too, from what I could make of it. Not many doors were open. But New York, for example, was all royal blues and creams, very neat lines, very businesslike, very, uh… Daily Bugle. Meanwhile, another office, the State of which it was representative of slipping my mind temporarily, was rather more laid back, with a gentle daffodil motif, soft green leather chairs, and a rather more unhurried approach to things. Oh, and Georgia, for some reason, had a welcome mat.

It had a peach on it.

It was cute.

Anyway, after that genuinely fascinating experience with the animals of the political zoo, we headed topside, caught the metro to a couple of stops further down the mall, and saw some of the bigger sights. Namely, the Washington Monument, which I’m sure I need not link, and which no building in DC may out-tower in height, the reflecting pool, the war memorials, and Abraham Lincoln’s statue. These things have been done to death and I shan’t pretend I have anything to add, but truly: stirring stuff.

We didn’t make it to Arlington, unfortunately, nor to the spy museum, but I got to see a lot that I wouldn’t have otherwise thanks to unforeseen contacts. I hope this is a pattern that repeats itself as I go!

Passing back through Union Station, with Politico in one hand and The Onion in the other, it seemed a fitting juxtaposition. How can so much be entrusted to so few, and those few be so reckless with so much? The chap from earlier did say this: ‘If we took out the 20 most Liberal and the 20 most Conservative senators? Yeah, we’d get a lot more done’.

So I’ll leave you with that.

News from West Virginia tomorrow.

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