I was impressed by the Obamans respect for the people who work in government. The Bush administration treated government workers like lazy dolts—setting rigid goals for them and outsourcing government functions to private industry as much as possible. (Do a Google search on “Halliburton” to see how well that worked out for the taxpayer.) In contrast, Zients helps government people set their own goals and provides some of the essential tools they need to accomplish them. Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and good-government maven, explains the shift: “In the past, government workers were told that government is the problem and nothing was expected of them. Now there’s a new message: You do matter. Now, get stuff done.
Washington Metro News
An apparently uninvited couple waltzes past what we have always been told is an impenetrable human wall against danger to the president.
We may have already forgotten the failures a few months ago in what we had grown up believing were the failsafe procedures to prevent cataclysmic disaster with our nuclear arsenal. Remember the cross-country B-52 flight of missiles that were never supposed to be armed over the United States, but were? Or the theft of a device carrying launch codes, or the Minuteman Three crewmembers caught sleeping near their silo duty posts?
As someone who usually goes to the White House three times a week for the press briefings, let me tell you: It’s not easy to get in, even if you’re a regular.
You could bust into the Vatican and sit on the pope’s lap easier than you could get anywhere near the president of the United States.
Or so we all thought, until last week’s State Dinner, when a publicity-hungry couple from Northern Virginia strolled into the White House and shook hands with Barack Obama as easy as if they were walking into McDonald’s.
I’m sorry. I can’t contain myself. I have to write about this:
It is probably not true that when President Barack Obama announces Tuesday he’ll be ordering thousands more Americans to Afghanistan, the first two to go will be the couple that crashed the White House State Dinner. But there are probably some people here who would applaud the idea.
“Thank you for asking.”
If I am ever able to realize my dream to establish an Insincerity Hall of Fame, that phrase will have a prominent place.
It’s the usually dismissive response from someone who has just been asked, “How ya doin’?” I always want to fire back with “Thank you for answering” or “Thank you for thanking me for asking.”
Everyone in the D.C. metropolitan area remembers. I still think of it every time I see a white van. I even think about it when I see someone hustling to their car at a gas station. In October 2002, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd terrorized this area by randomly discharging bullets into strangers while they were pumping gas or strolling with their families through mall parking lots. Over a two-month period, they shot 16 people, killing 10.
After a summer of overheated and self-righteous zealotry, Washington was desperate for some consistent levity to lighten the mood. Luckily, Northwest D.C.’s own Anthony Irwin Kornheiser has returned to the airways after a long layoff to deliver some of the smartest two hours of programming anywhere.
The show airs on the Daniel Snyder-owned ESPN radio affiliate, but it rarely focuses on sports. The show is much more likely to wander through politics, reality TV, movie reviews and Kornheiser’s hilariously neurotic musings. There’s also plenty of sage insight from prominent pols like Newsweek’s Howard Fineman and “the smartest man in Washington,” uber-lawyer Abbe Lowell, but there’s also the absurd randomness of having Eugene Robinson talking about "American Idol" and James Carville picking obscure college football betting lines.
After much thought I have decided to sell out, in the tradition of so many progressive Democrats who like me have worked for congressional leaders and senior Democrats. After seeing the latest scam being perpetrated by industry lobbyists working with Democratic senators receiving industry money, which would allow bankrupt states to have state public options they can't do, and allow Republicans states to have state public options they won’t do, I have made the big career decision.
Sally began working in the Congress, in the Longworth cafeteria, before I was even born. She worked for the House for an amazing 57 years and was beloved by all.
When I worked for the House leadership, I cannot tell you how many times I had to visit the Members Dining Room, often at odd hours, often with no notice, often in a mad rush and sometimes with VIP guests. Sally was always there with her radiant smile, her glowing hair, her tactful manner and her wonderful style to make everyone feel comfortable and at home.
Sometimes, though, those stories can help make a useful point. So today I write about the Washington Nationals and The Washington Post and what they share in common with so many of our failing institutions.
I’ll give it away: They are now being run by people who seem to have too little regard for their companies’ unique ways of doing business. They seem to consider unimportant the sometimes-tedious ethics and practices that made the properties they’ve taken over prosper in the first place. Economy-wide, whatever the enterprise, it’s only about making as much money as possible. Corner-cutting — of all types — is the way to do it.