IN SEPTEMBER of 2011, a fortyish budget connoisseur named Maya MacGuineas was feeling demoralized. She couldn’t believe that Congress and the president had nearly let the country default on its debt rather than reach a major deficit-cutting deal the previous summer. So she did what she had become unofficially famous for in the wonk circles of Washington: She threw a glamorous dinner party. MacGuineas’s friend, Virginia Senator Mark Warner, agreed to open his Alexandria estate to a coterie of bold-faced names.
Much has been written about the role of the internet and social media in the Arab Spring last year, particularly in Egypt, where protestors organized and communicated on Facebook and Twitter. But while global connectivity can help protestors overthrow dictators and tell the world their story, it also gives everyone access to the less-inspiring corners of the web. That was on display this past week during Hillary Clinton’s visit to meet with leaders in Egypt. You may have read about the protests that greeted the Secretary of State in Alexandria.
Alexandria, Egypt—Parliamentarians’ offices typically feature self-flattering photos and patriotic paraphernalia, so I was taken aback by the décor of recently elected Muslim Brotherhood MP Saber Abouel Fotouh’s Alexandria headquarters.
Forgive the corny metaphors. But it was not I who framed developments in the Arab world with the sequence of the seasons. Still, you need only glance at the papers to recognize that Arab Spring is now Arab Winter without really ever having passed through summer or fall. Spring is, as ever, a romantic memory. As I write, Reuters reports from the Cairo morgue that 33 to 46 protestors were killed by the police since Saturday—and that nearly 1,300 were wounded and maimed.
The Washington Metro Board was discussing station names changes this morning. On the agenda: items like changing Navy Yard-to Navy Yard-Ballpark station and adding Old Town to the King Street station name in Alexandria. Though seemingly innocuous, these debates can be surprisingly contentious.
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern By Stephen Greenblatt (W.W. Norton, 356 pp., $26.95) Midway through the greatest literary work of the Italian Renaissance, the paladin Orlando, the hero of Ludovico Ariosto’s epic poem Orlando Furioso, which appeared in 1516, goes crazy with unrequited love and jealousy. His poet creator is in no better shape: he is writing, he winkingly tells us, in a “lucid interval” of his own lovesickness.