I’m slowly making my way through this biography of William Seward. There’s an interesting story I wasn’t aware of from his days as a Senator. By 1858, he was a leading opponent of slavery in the Senate. Still he was cordial with many Southern Senators. One story in particular: “In early 1858, when Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi was suffering from a sever eye illness and confined to his darkened room for seven weeks, Seward visited him every day and spent an hour amusing the invalid with stories.”
If we didn’t all know what was coming, that would be the type of how-DC-Used-To-Be stories that the beltway press like to tell themselves. If we didn’t know that in 3 years they’ll stand on opposite sides, as over half a million people die in the Civil War, it might be a lovely story of the bipartisan niceness of a bygone era. Viewing it as that also obscures that one side was right on one of the least morally ambiguous issues of our history: slavery was wrong.
So that’s what I was thinking about when I read at Balloon Juice that reporters are using their question at a press conference to ask Obama why he and his staff don’t socialize more.
I’d like to ask you, now that you’ve reached the end of your first term, starting your second, about a couple of criticisms — one that’s longstanding, another more recent. The longstanding one seems to have become a truism of sorts that you’re — you and your staff are too insular, that you don’t socialize enough.
DC is a place with strange values.