Tuesday, October 7, 2008

WHO'S REALLY RUNNING WASHINGTON?

Anne Applebaum, Washington Post - Although there are plenty of native Washingtonians working as doctors or cabdrivers or bank managers, most of the people who actually control the city's most famous institutions -- Congress, the White House, the federal government -- weren't born in Washington. Like Sarah Palin, they are from "in the heartland," in places like Wasilla, and it is the values of the heartland and Wasilla that they must be therefore presumed to embody. . .

Among these "outsiders" I would include our current president, who was raised in Midland, Tex.; our vice president, who was raised in Casper, Wyo.; our most recent former president, who was born in Hope, Ark.; even our most senior former president, who comes from Plains, Ga. I would also include the large numbers of ex-Texans -- Karen Hughes, Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzales -- who have towered over national politics for the past eight years, as well as such notable figures as Michael "heck of a job" Brown, the Oklahoma native who presided over the government's response to Hurricane Katrina as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Above all, I would include Congress, which by definition contains hundreds of "outsiders," many from places just like Wasilla. I am thinking here of Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska (a resident of Girdwood), now on trial on charges of corruption, and Texas Rep. Tom DeLay (born in Laredo), who resigned in disgrace. For the sake of bipartisanship, I'll mention Louisiana Democratic Rep. William Jefferson (originally of Lake Providence), recently indicted on charges of corruption. But if more small-town Republican names come to mind, that's because small-town Republicans have figured among the most powerful and most prominent Washington politicians for much of the past decade.

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