U.S.

In Defense of Washington, D.C.

(Unsplash)
The city gets a bad rap from outsiders, but there’s really no better place to be.

I  adore my hometown, a homey place called Washington, D.C.

The image of Washington as a cesspool of preening pretense is not completely libelous, but neither is it the whole story. You can live here and avoid all that. Among natives — and after 38 years, I think I qualify — weeks can go by without the subject of government even coming up. We Washingtonians walk our dogs, have block parties, attend concerts, grill steaks in the backyard, and shovel the elderly neighbor’s front walk when it snows. We have religious institutions, book clubs, and PTA meetings, just like other places. At the local dog park, we discuss gardening, home repair, our children, and local gossip; rarely does gun control or Medicare for All come up.

That’s the ordinary. Now for the extraordinary: I’ve traveled the world a bit and still consider Washington to be one of the most beautiful cities on earth. “Thine alabaster cities gleam” captures our capital — my town — even if we can’t quite say “undimmed by human tears.” Every time I land at National Airport and catch sight of the pure lines of the Washington Monument, the majestic Capitol dome, and the blue Potomac setting off Lincoln’s white-marble temple, I exhale with pleasure.

Samuel Johnson once said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” Regarding Washington, I would add that if you’re bored here, it’s entirely on you. The 20 Smithsonian museums are treasures (though the zoo is having issues), and they’re free. This encourages frequent short visits, which are really the best way to view masterpieces or mastodons. History is everpresent, from Mount Vernon just down the George Washington Parkway to Ford’s Theater on 10th Street.

D.C. is infamous for steamy summers, but it shouldn’t be. We have the ideal climate. Winters are mild, with just enough snow to enchant adults and give the kids some days off from school. Spring explodes with fragrant flowers while you still need a warm coat, and lingers till flip-flop weather takes over — two months in a good year. Summer is hot — but it’s a wet heat. Okay, some people find it oppressive, but we’re not Paris; we have air conditioning. The autumn air is crisp and the skies are the deepest blue of the year, providing a brilliant backdrop for the foliage fireworks. Best of all is what we do not generally have: wildfires, droughts, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, or earthquakes. If we do get any of these things, they’re so mild that they serve as social glue without the pain of a real catastrophe.

We have no iconic cuisine or accent. Instead, we have them all. “Cosmopolitan” is a much-abused word, but it’s apt. Washington attracts talented — and, yes, public-spirited — people from all over the country and the world. My social circle has included transplants from Kansas, Georgia, Great Britain, Ohio, New York, Iran, California, Canada, Illinois, Indiana, and many other locales. This lure makes Washington the least provincial city in America. Many are drawn here by love for the country. There’s no better place to be.

Most Popular

Elections

Bernie’s Huge Victory

Bernie had a massive night in Nevada, with a diverse nomination-winning-type coalition. According to the entrance poll, he won whites and Hispanics and did well among blacks. He won men and women. He won college graduates and did particularly well with non-college graduates. He won Democrats and independents. ... Read More
Elections

Bernie’s Huge Victory

Bernie had a massive night in Nevada, with a diverse nomination-winning-type coalition. According to the entrance poll, he won whites and Hispanics and did well among blacks. He won men and women. He won college graduates and did particularly well with non-college graduates. He won Democrats and independents. ... Read More

Elon Musk’s Plan to Settle Mars

He who follows Freedom, let him leave his homeland, and risk his life. — Adam Mickiewicz, Polish poet, 1832 Last week my wife Hope and I traveled to Boca Chica, Texas, to meet with Elon Musk. While we talked inside the SpaceX onsite headquarters, a mariachi band played outside, providing entertainment for ... Read More

Elon Musk’s Plan to Settle Mars

He who follows Freedom, let him leave his homeland, and risk his life. — Adam Mickiewicz, Polish poet, 1832 Last week my wife Hope and I traveled to Boca Chica, Texas, to meet with Elon Musk. While we talked inside the SpaceX onsite headquarters, a mariachi band played outside, providing entertainment for ... Read More
U.S.

Women’s Sports Should Be Women’s Sports

Transgender sports policies make a mockery of women’s competition. Just look at the state of Connecticut. At the 2018 state open for women’s track and field, two young men identifying as transgender took first and second place in the 100m race. Their participation not only deprived young women of their ... Read More
U.S.

Women’s Sports Should Be Women’s Sports

Transgender sports policies make a mockery of women’s competition. Just look at the state of Connecticut. At the 2018 state open for women’s track and field, two young men identifying as transgender took first and second place in the 100m race. Their participation not only deprived young women of their ... Read More
Elections

Bernie’s Houses

Mike Bloomberg scored a hit -- a palpable hit -- in the debate this week when he pointed back at Bernie Sanders and said: “What a wonderful country we have, the best-known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses.” Many conservatives laughed and cheered and wondered why Bernie ... Read More
Elections

Bernie’s Houses

Mike Bloomberg scored a hit -- a palpable hit -- in the debate this week when he pointed back at Bernie Sanders and said: “What a wonderful country we have, the best-known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses.” Many conservatives laughed and cheered and wondered why Bernie ... Read More

Escape from Wuhan

The onset of the crisis in Wuhan startled me like a jump scare in a horror movie. You’ve seen the kind I mean. The audience is led to believe that the monster, psycho killer—or what have you—pursuing the intended victim is still distant. Then whatever it is stands up from behind, leaps out in front, bursts ... Read More

Escape from Wuhan

The onset of the crisis in Wuhan startled me like a jump scare in a horror movie. You’ve seen the kind I mean. The audience is led to believe that the monster, psycho killer—or what have you—pursuing the intended victim is still distant. Then whatever it is stands up from behind, leaps out in front, bursts ... Read More