Mood in Washington: Unconditional Surrender

Mood in Washington: Unconditional Surrender

Washington is a dismal place just now. The muddy Potomac, dreary and snuff-colored, stirs slowly and painfully like and old man waking to the agony of his years. Somehow, even the Capitol dome conveys an impression of timidity in pointing toward an anemic, sluggish sky. In the morning fog the city’s massive monuments and slabs loom as bleached sepulchers: melancholy repositories for old bones and old deeds and old dreams. One knows there will be no spring this year: neither flowering of the bush nor of the spirit.

The Ninetieth Congress, from the liberal view, is like the little boy from a dimly remembered song of childhood: made of “snaps and snails and puppy-dogs’ tails.” President Johnson— that merry, mercurial Field Marshal of yesteryear’s battles—privately snarls at the political war gods and publicly waves the white flag to a ragtag Congress that apparently defeated him before it fired a shot. His generals of the Cabinet, and their vast army of civil servants, have marched back down the hill to entrench in defensive positions. Though the British once sacked Washington and the Army of Northern Virginia menaced its gates, seldom has the Capital seemed more vulnerable than now. The American Dream must wait.

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Lima