Friday, August 5

White House To Capital Building

We start our day, 7:30AM, w/ a tour of The White House which Sonnet secures via her Alaskan Congressman. The first floor open to the public and used for state dinners and formal entertaining. The President occupies the second and third floors; secret service guard the chambers. I ask one armed dude about his qualifications and he informs me : "military combat+six months 'special training.' "

From there, our 16-year old friend Michael gives us a special inside tour of The Capital Building including seats to the House of Representatives and the Senate (Michael the son of London friends Diana and Simon+interning for New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen; he attends London's Westminster School). Since a Saturday and the US 72 hours from defaulting on its sovereign obligations, there is a .. festive mood on the house floor. The Congressmen huddle - look, there's Nancy Palosi talking to Barney Frank!- and gossip (Michelle Bachmann in over-sized pearls!) and chatter away (accept for Harry Waxman who is by himself and all business!). At the Senate we see John Kerry and listen to Alaska's Senator Mark Begich, which makes Sonnet happy. The highlight : bumping into Harry Reid, shuffling along a side-corridor, huddled over his papers that seem to spill from his satchel. Exactly what one would expect of the Majority Leader.

Me: "What building is that?"
Eitan: "The Capital Building."
Me: "And that one?"
Madeleine: "Washington Monument?"
Me: "Good. And what are walking on?"
Madeleine: "The ground."
Eitan: "The Mall."

Me: "Do you think the President ever suffers from trapped wind?"
Eitan: "Dad! No, but I'll bet the Queen does."
Sonnet: "I'm not part of this conversation."

"The lucky thing for us is that we are in a race with Europe and Japan for 'most financially irresponsible Super Power'. And, for right now , the European and Japanese have substantial advantages in that race."
--Walter Russell Mead, Bard College