Dupont

There are a million stories in the naked city, but there appears to be only one story in Washington, D.C. Have you ever read a book set in the capital that was not related to government? Whereas any romantic entanglement, murderous scheme, or cloying period piece may be set in New York City, a plot set in Washington is by and large one of official intrigue, albeit involving a pretty girl. When was the last time you read a romance set in the cafes of Dupont Circle, with no conspiracy in the background? Washington exists as a literary setting solely to establish a stock scene: politics.

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  It's five miles from Northern Virginia, where the Pentagon sets military targets, and a mile and a half from Foggy Bottom, where the State Department cobbles together coalitions. To look at it, you'd never guess that the ten-story glass-and-steel building at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and T Street, nestled amid the town houses and cafes of Dupont Circle, serves as one of the headquarters for the U.S. propaganda war against terrorism. If it doesn't look like a government office building, that's because it's not. Rather, it houses a public relations firm called The Rendon Group.

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Coming home last Friday night, I stumbled upon a candlelight vigil. Hundreds of my Dupont Circle neighbors were walking gravely down Q Street, holding signs and dispensing leaflets. As I stopped to watch, a man pulled up on his bicycle, surveyed the scene, and began to scream. "Why don't you just commit suicide?" he yelled at the marchers. A policeman rushed over and tried to quiet him down: "None of that," he said, "this is a vigil. No politics." "My brother died in New York," the man answered, "and these fuckers..." And then he sped off. But the policeman was wrong.

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Sounds of Silence

Like a Giant Valium descending on Dulles International Airport, the Bush transition has come to Washington. Despite a good-faith effort to get exercised over John "Bob Jones Loves Me" Ashcroft, most of us seem already sedated by the sheer grown-upness of it all. Compared with the Clintonistas, yapping into cell phones at the Dupont Circle Starbucks at all hours of the day and night, the Bushies seem preternaturally calm. Where we once had a permanent campaign, we now have intermittent naps.

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Warming Up

Gregg Easterbrook: The real way we know the earth is warming.

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Pox Populi

United We Stand: How We Can Take Back Our Country by Ross Perot (Hyperion, 115 pp., $4.95 paper) Not for Sale at Any Price: How We Can Save America for Our Children by Ross Perot (Hyperion, 158 pp., $5.95 paper)  On November 7, 1969, a week before the huge antiwar moratorium demonstrations, The New York Times ran a full-page advertisement in support of the Nixon administration's policy in Vietnam. A similar advertisement appeared two days later; and then, on November 15, the Times reported that the pro-Nixon advertisers had blanketed the country with 25 million postcards backing the president,

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  Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;}  On May 17, 1795, President Washington sent a note rebuking a city Commissioner for preferr

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Now the Republicans are doing the same thing. And in style, too. The Democrats' seminar-attenders and program devisers in most cases at least had the decency to work out of dusty little cubby holes in elderly buildings in the Dupont Circle area of Washington. But the AEI, as the Washington Post noted, has "well appointed offices" which are "spread over four floors of a modern building." Corporate-style, the Post might have added.

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