Leonard Downie Jr. said he’d still be a busy fellow once he stepped down as Washington Post executive editor in early September. And here he is, just weeks later, in the prime spot in the Sunday Outlook section. Not reminiscing about his years atop the Post; not talking journo-ethics. Nope, he’s defending this fine city against all the attacks from the campaign trail. You know, the ones that ascribe all the great problems of America to Washington, D.C.
The signature line from Downie: “Large numbers of Washingtonians have dedicated much of their lives to real public service that does not involve the ego trips, trappings and hypocrisies of elective office.”
It’s a fine argument, and one that all locals need to read every four years, if only to leave something of a counterpoint in this otherwise counterpoint-less offensive. Funny thing, if there’s one notion that’s genuinely bipartisan these days it’s that Washington is a terrible place because of its partisanship.
Downie’s piece, however, does suffer from one colossal omission, having to do with the following sentence: “Never mind that the biggest mess in America today, the crisis in the financial markets, is largely the creation of the private sector, which has left it to Washington to clean up.”
“Largely,” here, is the key word, enabling the author to say, OK, maybe government shares some blame, but not the preponderance. The truth, as we’ve learned the hard way, is that this is the private sector teaming up with its toadies in the public sector to devise a financial sector virtually free of regulation. Government is way too culpable for this crisis to get anything approaching a bye.
And I must say that Downie had my civic pride in full blossom there at the end of the piece. But then he sneaked in a plug for his upcoming book, The Rules of the Game, and I kinda lost my municipal buzz.
*Just how desperate is James Gilmore in his battle for a Virginia senate seat?
*Do you believe that Obama is on the verge of a blowout victory?
*Blogger writes Pedestrian Plea, tells D.C. drivers to calm the f*** down.
*New Haven, looking great great in a photo illustration.