I was in Washington last week.
I’m in Washington at least twice a year, once to hold the World Conference of the Professional Speechwriters Association (this year, Oct. 16-18; registration opens soon) and usually at least one other time for one reason or another.
I love Washington, for all the obvious reasons and also because I have lots of professional friends here—many more than I have in Chicago, for sure.
I love Georgetown University and The Tombs and Martin’s Tavern.
I love running along the Potomac and down the Mall, starting at the Capitol and finishing at the Lincoln Memorial. Running up those steps, I feel as free as I do on my motorcycle on a country road.
The only thing that I used to love but don’t love anymore is the White House. It was barricaded this time, and I was grateful, because I didn’t want him to see me.
And there’s one thing that I used to hate about D.C. that I also didn’t have to see this time: smug looks on Washington faces, people who know the score. After meetings and conversations with a dozen D.C. communication operators of various stripes last week, I can report to Trump loathers and lovers alike that though the president hasn’t “drained the swamp”—and never will, because the swamp goes all the way down—I can tell you that he has thoroughly stirred the swamp up, into a dangerous confused sea.
Not only do Washington insiders not have a firmer grasp than your slackjawed Midwestern self on what is happening here, they actually have less. A person who knows how the White House is supposed to work is more gobsmacked than you are about the manner in which it is (sort of) operating now. Because they know how things are supposed to operate and they can see more clearly, how out of whack the current reality is.
Which, emotionally, is actually kind of refreshing when you’re in Washington, because people don’t treat you like a rube.
But less so on the way home from your week with America's Best Guessers, when you realize that your dumb guess is every bit as good as theirs.