Magazine | September 9, 2019, Issue

Life in D.C. 

The Washington Monument seen through cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., March 27, 2019. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)
In the hurly-burly of politics, we usually don’t stop to note our simple, unadorned love of the things that make this country so marvelous. That’s what we’ve asked our contributors to our latest special issue, "What We Love about America," to do.

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 almost 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 people in other places. At the 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 the best way to view masterpieces or mastodons. History is ever present, 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. The lure of Washington makes it the least provincial city in America. Many are drawn here by love for the country. There’s no better place to be.

In This Issue

What We Love About America

U.S.

American Men

American men — with few exceptions — treat you like a human being, in a free, natural way, because they’ve done it from the nation’s youth.

Books, Arts & Manners

Sections

Most Popular

Religion

Chick-fil-A’s Shameful Capitulation

After what one Chick-fil-A executive called “years of taking it on the chin,” referring presumably to the decades of hectoring leveled at the company by LGBT activists, the press, and scolds at American colleges and universities, the fast-food chain announced its decision to withdraw support from three ... Read More
Religion

Chick-fil-A’s Shameful Capitulation

After what one Chick-fil-A executive called “years of taking it on the chin,” referring presumably to the decades of hectoring leveled at the company by LGBT activists, the press, and scolds at American colleges and universities, the fast-food chain announced its decision to withdraw support from three ... Read More
Film & TV

Frozen II Is a Fjord Fiasco

Since Frozen was a nearly perfect Disney feature, Frozen II brings with it the expectation of magic. Magic is really hard to pull off, though, and this time the sparkle is gone. In Frozen II, the story is strange, the jokes are terrible, the romance is nonexistent, and the songs are clunkers. Fairy tales that end ... Read More
Film & TV

Frozen II Is a Fjord Fiasco

Since Frozen was a nearly perfect Disney feature, Frozen II brings with it the expectation of magic. Magic is really hard to pull off, though, and this time the sparkle is gone. In Frozen II, the story is strange, the jokes are terrible, the romance is nonexistent, and the songs are clunkers. Fairy tales that end ... Read More
White House

The Impeachment Clock

Adam Schiff’s impeachment inquiry is incoherent. Given the impossibility of a senatorial conviction, the only strategy is to taint the president with the brand of impeachment and weaken him in the 2020 election. Yet Schiff seems to have no sense that the worm has already turned. Far from tormenting Trump and ... Read More
White House

The Impeachment Clock

Adam Schiff’s impeachment inquiry is incoherent. Given the impossibility of a senatorial conviction, the only strategy is to taint the president with the brand of impeachment and weaken him in the 2020 election. Yet Schiff seems to have no sense that the worm has already turned. Far from tormenting Trump and ... Read More
Elections

Warren’s Wealth Tax Is Unethical

Senator Warren would impose a 2 percent annual tax on wealth above $50 million, and a 6 percent annual tax on wealth above $1 billion. These numbers may seem small, but remember that they would be applied every year. With wealth taxes, small numbers have large effects. Applied to an asset yielding a steady ... Read More
Elections

Warren’s Wealth Tax Is Unethical

Senator Warren would impose a 2 percent annual tax on wealth above $50 million, and a 6 percent annual tax on wealth above $1 billion. These numbers may seem small, but remember that they would be applied every year. With wealth taxes, small numbers have large effects. Applied to an asset yielding a steady ... Read More