[Dear Readers, let me assure you that the term “Pol-Mol” has nothing to do with Pŏl-mol, North Korea… although one can never be too sure with the mysterious EEofDC, who threw me for a lop with some of her wonderful responses to my profoundly immature questions. And the photos: it just doesn’t get any better than this! Enjoy…]
Bunn Bunn: EEofDC, you’ve lived in or near Washington, DC and have been engaged with and interested in your community long enough to speak wisdom on a great variety of topics, in particular Beltway history, politics, music, arts and culture… if you don’t mind me asking, have you ever been or considered working as a consultant or lobbyist?
EEofDC: Let me start off by saying that it’s such a thrill for me to be communicating with a creature that is probably as equally high strung and wary about life as I am. And I’m honored that you’re interested in my view of things Washingtonian.
Actually, when I came to DC all those years ago it was as a freelance design consultant to the Office of Personnel Management during the Carter Administration, and I had no conscious intention of staying past my year-long contract. It is shocking and surprising to me that I have lived for 30 years (this month)–29 of them four blocks west of “La Maison Blanche”–in our nation’s capital and it has been a remarkable experience.
When I first arrived here in November of 1978, DC was a provincial backwater and a very sleepy southern town. There were no restaurants serving food after midnight with the exception of the disgusting hole-in-the-wall, Au Pied de Cochon (Foot of the Pig) in Georgetown, and DC the residential city, separate and apart from the Federal City, was embarking on an experiment in self-governance called “Home Rule.” Unfortunately, DC is still pretty much a provincial backwater but with a helluva lot more security bollards, lobbyists and consultants.
As far as being a lobbyist, I would much prefer becoming a hooker. There’s a lot more honesty and transparency in that profession.
BB: Do you think that being Irish innoculates one against receiving indictments and/or makes a person more or less suitable for government service, in particular joining the ranks of the diplomatic corps?
EE: Some of my best friends are diplomats, active and retired. It is not the cushy assignment that everyone thinks it is, especially for the lower ranked members of the corps. In my experience, the best diplomats are Swedish. In 2002 the Swedish Ambassador (Jan Eliasson) at the time talked the DC government into selling a sliver of prime Georgetown waterfront land for a new Swedish Embassy building. This was on his first try after 25+ years of stalemate on the property.
Irish Americans are much better suited for political office (think Tip O’Neill, the Kennedys, the Daleys, etc.) where their lies and subterfuge are expected and excused as quaint artifacts of a story-telling culture. I’m conflicted on Irish serving as police officers. They certainly are head-bangers but there is some very old mojo between them and African Americans that needs to be dealt with and resolved openly.
BB: Do you think that President Obama would be well advised to avoid all non-purely superficial communications with interns?
EE: My sense is that interns, female or otherwise, are not going to be an issue or problem for President-Elect Obama. (Although, I must admit that I was completely dumbfounded by Eliot Spitzer’s behavior, so I may not be the best judge of Obama’s weaknesses.) My only advice for President-Elect Obama is to not take himself too seriously, embrace the experience, realize we’re all in this together, and get some help with his nicotine addiction (despite what that numbskull Michael Kinsley wrote in an editorial recently).
BB: Whom do you admire more, Janis Joplin or Margaret Thatcher?
EE: Admire is not the word that comes to mind first with either of these two women. Joplin was intriguing to me in college although I found her singing style at the time not to my taste. It was only much later that I learned of her struggle as an outcast and what a unique and inventive personality she really was.
BB: What do you think was the greatest political speech of all time (made by a person who was not insane)?
EE: While I am greatly moved by the Gettysburg Address — I read it in full every time I visit the Lincoln Memorial — I would have to go with The Sermon on the Mount. “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”
EE: Absolutely not. I love the Jefferson Memorial and have been to visit countless times. What is annoying are the hordes of tourists who arrive like swarms of locusts for the Cherry Blossom Festival in April each year and invariably stress and damage the cherry trees ringing the Tidal Basin, on which the Jefferson Memorial sits. Let me assure you that tourists of all ages, nationalities and races exhibit the most appalling behavior each year at this time.
What does creep me out is a recently-completed set of bathrooms and a visitors center that were plopped down next to the new WWII Memorial on the south side. The bathrooms in particular look like a working crematorium.
BB: Do you think Obama has read the book “Lincoln’s Melancholy,” or that maybe he ought to ease up just a bit on comparing himself to Lincoln so often, so prematurely, and in so many different ways?
EE: Not being an aficionado of either Lincoln or Obama (so many men, so little time) at this point and not having heard of Obama’s penchant for being a Lincoln groupie until queried by you, I would feel unqualified to form an opinion about its meaning. I would note that in a recent Vanity Fair issue, there was an interview/story with Tony Curtis about his relationship with Marilyn Monroe. He thought Monroe had a serious Abe Lincoln fetish pointing out her husbands Arthur Miller and Joe DiMaggio and a boyfriend whose name escapes me as tangible evidence. Obama is in good company with his Abephilia.
BB: If you were to give Catherine Austin Fitts advice, it would be:
(a) follow Nudge’s lead and apply for a job with the incoming Obama administration;
(b) seek political asylum outside the Anglosphere;
(c) remove several teeth and assume a new identity in Roanoke; or
EE: My advice to CAF would be (d) get yourself to a fat farm, girlfriend! You have the resources and you’re close to the Mayo Clinic. And, I mean right now. You are a walking coronary. You’re a brilliant financier but you can’t assist anyone from six feet under or scattered over Hickory Valley in a veil of ashes.
EE: No rest for the wicked, Bunn! If I’m going to continue to support my furry little squirrel friends, I have to embark on actually finding or creating an income stream–doing something legal. No time for dilly-dallying.
BB: Do you mind that my updated fantasy avatar version of you highly resembles Gretchen Mol and can we do this again sometime?
EE: At my age, it is a great compliment to be thought of as anything other than Grandma Moses. And, yes, I do look forward to speaking with you again, especially after the Obamas have settled in.
BB: Thank you.