Capitolism -- A Postcard from D.C.
This town is obsessed with the coming election. I guess most everyone is, but here, not surprisingly, it's topics A, B, and C. Every conversation I had quickly turned to the primaries, and there was no consensus about what would or should happen. At the gift shop at my hotel you could buy buttons and bumper stickers for Obama, Clinton, Romney, McCain, and all the rest, including those who have called it quits. Collectors' items someday, perhaps. In my experience, however, campaign trinkets like that are passed out free gratis for nothing. I guess if the hotel can make a buck off your political leanings, it's happy to do so.
I just met my first talking trash can. I emailed the news to a colleague who wrote back, "a politician?" But no, it was at the new cafe in the atrium of the National Portrait Gallery, one of the Smithsonian museums, this one a couple blocks off the Mall. It's all in aid of comity and recycling, I guess. One approaches the refuse area, puts glass here, plastic there, then dumps the rest into its assigned slot. "Thank you," says a voice from what the Brits would call the tip. And every now and then it says, "Please wait a minute while I compact the garbage," or words to that effect. An instant anachronism, I suppose, but charming in its way.
This followed a visit to the new cafeteria in the Rayburn House Office Building with an old friend who works for Henry Waxman (D-CA), who is mounting long long long overdue investigations of various Bush administration misadventures, as we wrote about a little while ago. We lunched in the cafeteria, which has undergone a dramatic overhaul since the 2007 elections put the Dems in charge. Where once one could dine on Freedom Fries, now one has a selection of various fresh, organic salads and soups, drinks from compostable glasses made from corn cobs, fresh local fish. It's still a cafeteria, but quite a pleasant and nutritious one. Last column we said that everything's going green—it extends even to the Congress, at least for now.
I was in DC for never-ending roadless research. Suffice it to say for now that the litigation continues, the petitions for Idaho and Colorado (the only live petitions) are being worked over, and nearly everyone is looking to the election for final resolution. Unless that falls to the Supreme Court. We'll see.