Pennsylvania Avenue

Canadian Attack on Downtown DC Foiled
September 24, 2009

Jordan Michael Smith is a writer living in D.C. For Lieutenant-Colonel Doug Martin, the idea was perfect. The Canadian military attaché wanted to set up a mock Afghan village in front of the Canadian embassy in downtown DC. There would be simulated IED blasts, armed soldiers, and Afghan actors faking critical wounds. And the blasts would first go off  in the middle of the day, just in time for lunch. “I came up with it on my own,” Martin said.

9/12 Comeback Makes Barely A Ripple
September 22, 2009

A week and a half ago, the Capital exploded in vaguely anti-government sentiment. Tuesday was supposed to be the anti-Glenn Beck crowd's rejoinder: 150 health care rallies around the country, sounding a clarion call for the public option. In Washington, a band of about 20 activists gathered on a barren strip of Pennsylvania Avenue while the occasional passerby scuttled past, probably late to lunch. "We are fired up! We are ready to go!" an organizer yelled, as if trying to convince herself.

Tea'd Off
September 13, 2009

On Saturday, September 12, America threw a gigantic temper tantrum in Washington D.C. Organizers called it the “largest gathering of fiscal conservatives in history,” and they’re probably right. But for an angry, anti-government fit, the march was remarkably civil. They had come in large bands--14 buses from Morristown, New Jersey; 12 from Harford County, Maryland--prepared with picnic baskets and lawn chairs. They festooned their hats with teabags and dressed in Revolutionary-era finery.

Why Reform Survived August
September 07, 2009

The August recess began with critics attacking health care reform because of its high price tag. It ended with critics attacking health care reform because of how reformers proposed to reduce that high price tag. The intervening weeks were nightmarish: Instead of using August to showcase what reform could do for the average American, the White House spent most of its time knocking down rumors of death panels for the sick and elderly. And as the right became energized, the left grew disillusioned, as much by the administration’s backroom deals as by its ineffectual messaging.

Mayor for Life
August 10, 2009

In the summer of 1990, I was 16 years old and working as an intern on Capitol Hill. As one might expect of a high school student who spends his summer vacation interning for a senator--rather than, say, working as a camp counselor or hanging out at the beach--I had a somewhat inflated view of my importance. I came to work early and stayed late, certain my presence was vital to the smooth running of government. But about halfway through the summer, I put in for a day off. My boss, probably thinking I was going to do something fun, eagerly granted it. Little did she know.

The Operator
July 01, 2009

The first time I remember speaking with Karen Ignagni was via a TV satellite, for a debate about health care policy on CNN. It was the summer of 2007, not long after the debut of Michael Moore's Sicko, and each of us was playing our usual role. Ignagni is the telegenic president of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and arguably Washington's most influential health-industry lobbyist.