Diary Notes: Washington Ends Dark Past | News, Sports, Jobs


WASHINGTON – The city is entering a new season after the 9/11 commemorations. Congress is coming back from summer vacation. In the Capitol press gallery, we hear a sparkling chatter as if we were going back to school, a new beginning.

Could we get past a crowd storming the Capitol, an impeachment trial and the pandemic? As a witness to the three within these marble walls and halls, I so want to say yes.

Let me share some diary notes from the dome.

The lost war in Afghanistan colored the elegiac moments of September 11 – since that day has led to war. The midday sun hit House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leaders gathered on the steps of the Capitol’s eastern front.

The President played the Marine Band “God bless America” for the love of the good old days. Twenty years ago, Congress sang this song as the sun set on September 11.

Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated on these same steps. The dome he built was the target of the doomed United Flight 93 aircraft, which passengers forced to the ground.

Nearby, Secretary of State Antony Blinken bravely clashed with a committee that threw hard bullets at the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“We inherited a deadline (from former President Donald Trump)”, Blinken said. “We did not inherit a plan.”

Years ago Tony told me which government “main” was. Now there is one.

On the other side of the square, a sparkling building carries the motto, “Equality of justice before the law”. Very pleasant.

The Supreme Court upheld a Texas law invented by a former lawyer to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, letting vigilantes run wild over reproductive rights.

At midnight, the unsigned notice was joined by the only woman on the anti-woman side, once per ” napkin “ in her religion, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. She who flew onto court as Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s body cooled in the living room, days before the 2020 election.

As burnt as we are in the Supreme Court, Texas is gaining even more anger. The state house withdrew the voting rights this summer, at the governor’s request. Governor Greg Abbott is also a nemesis of COVID-19 vaccination warrants.

The Lone Star State is its own country. So, Texas, you are invited to secede. I wouldn’t miss you. Lincoln opposed the entry of the largest slave state into the Union in the first place.

Rays of light smiled on an exceptional weekend evening near the Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool. Thousands of people gathered for a picnic at a free Broadway musical concert, “Come from afar.”

It tells the true story of 7,000 air travelers landing in Gander, Newfoundland on September 11. They were tangled on a “giant piece of rock in the middle of the ocean.” The townspeople have welcomed strangers from all over the world into their homes and hearts.

Thank you, Ford’s Theater, for this dream gift, a tonic to raise a drink in Canada. The scene was the happiest I had seen in town for so long.

The next morning I went to a funeral mass for an ink-stained editor, Al Eisele. He was a friend of all: the barista, the press agent, the homeless man, the owner of the deli.

On September 11, Al’s friend David McCullough, the historian, was at the upscale Hay-Adams Hotel. He called Al and said, why don’t you come over here?

Al brought two young reporters to witness the Pentagon’s fall of the towers and fire with McCullough – and wrote a column about it.

Back in the press gallery, a policeman walked by, returning from a wartime deployment. “I was safer in Afghanistan (than here) on January 6”, he said.

It sank an arrow in our jokes. It happened: 140 police officers injured in the melee of the Capitol. We heard gunshots right outside the chamber of the House.

The saddest siege ended before dawn. Democracy won, but not by much.

They say the Trump crowd returns on Saturday. Deport them to Texas or Gander.

As the fall season begins, Democrats need every player on the pitch, like that former quarterback Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. They are thinking big, real forward-looking New Deal legislation.

Lincoln led us from darkness to light.

It’s in the air, an obvious chance to go further.

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Jamie Stiehm can be contacted at JamieStiehm.com. To read his weekly column and learn more about the Creators Syndicate columnists and designers, visit Creators.com.

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