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Congress Might Do Better With Fewer Trips Back Home

August 12, 2011

I have long suggested that one of the problems with modern-day Washington is the lack of friendships among members. Not casual encounters on the capitol subway system, but real friendships. Since there is a need for continual fund-raising, and then the constant back-and-forth every weekend to the congressional district, there is no time to build the needed bonds that would well-serve our nation  at times of high political tension.

The types of friendships I speak about are spelled out in the writings of such books as Katharine Graham’s Washington. Over the years I have likened the lack of connectedness among members of Congress to satellites floating about, all serving a purpose but not being linked in a meaningful way.

Friendship is lacking in Washington.

Now it seems that more people are noticing what I have argued for years.

Back in the golden days of Washington entertaining, hostess-with-the-mostest Perle Mesta was said to have remarked on the ease with which she was able to draw guests to her parties: “Just hang a pork chop in the window and they’ll come.” I’d like to see what Perle would have to hang in her window now to get a government official to one of her storied dinners — a minor rock star? A major PAC check? Washington doesn’t go to dinner much anymore, and it’s bad for the country.

So I urge Washington’s politicos to dust off their manners and instruct their schedulers to accept an occasional (non-fundraising) dinner invitation. They might even make a friend.

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