Washington Revisited

Ihate to go schmaltzy about my exploits, but I feel I must recount this one. Sightseeing in Washington DC makes no sense to me since I lived and worked here for quite a while. Yet, the other day, I waxed nostalgic when I found myself riding the familiar streets and avenues of DC in the company of my best American friend, Bill Thomas — author, journalist, and political analyst — and my son Boris, who is also living in the area and can riff like a local intellectual. The three of us made a smoothly operating bunch. Bill was an informed driver and an eloquent guide, and we were all ears throughout the tour. I didn’t know I’d missed this slick and tranquil city so much, whitely shining like alabaster in the sun. Bill’s story of Washington was unique in content and overtones. I thought I knew the place, but the more he talked, the less confident I grew. Have you ever heard a narrator tell you the story of a city and present every bit of its history mixed with the political shenanigans of the politicians who at some point in the past influenced what we are used to calling the American Civilization?

We drove through a neighborhood called Kalorama Triangle (northwest quadrant of Washington) and saw Hillary Clinton’s house, Barack Obama’s new residence, Ivanka Trump’s abode and Jeff Bezos’ two houses right next door to one another. Barack Obama’s street is now limited access, sealed off by the Secret Service, who only admit the people who live there. Ivanka Trump, the President’s billionaire daughter, lives right around the corner from Obama. I doubt they’re friends, though! in the Kalorama residential neighborhood can cost $10, $20, $30 million and up. It’s the sort of place where you can knock on the door and a butler answers. Jeff Bezos, now the richest man in the world, and who owns the Washington Post, is going to unite his two houses to make one big house. Clearly, he plans on making his presence known.

There are 180 embassies in Washington. Some occupy palatial 19th century mansions. Others belonging to developing countries are not much bigger than bachelor apartments. Most ambassadors try to become a social presence in the city. Some countries, like France, are famous for their entertaining. The parties the then-Iranian Ambassador used to throw in the 1970s are legendary. For a time, the Iranian Embassy was Studio 54 South. Then came the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the hostage crisis and the end of all diplomatic ties between the US and Iran. Since then, the former Iranian Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue has sat empty.

For a couple of minutes, we parked the vehicle in front of the Russian Embassy, and Bill quipped that we had stopped in Russia, and we began to suspect we were being watched by a vigilant Russian eye. The Russian Embassy, originally designed to be the Soviet Embassy, is the largest in Washington. It happens to be sitting in one of the highest parts in the city, which makes it easy for the Russians to listen to conversations in the White House and Pentagon. Not long after it opened in 1994, the FBI set up a listening post on the top floor of an apartment building up the street, where agents now listen to the Russians listening to the Americans. They deserve each other, don’t they?

And finally, the current American president! Donald Trump has taken on the Washington Establishment and its increasingly socialist game plan for governing the country. That's why the corrupt Obama administration, the Democratic Party and liberal media have tried everything to get rid of him. But nothing they've tried is working. Americans used to look up to Washington. But those days are over. Washington is now seen as ‘the Swamp’ – a symbol of greed, corruption and everything that’s wrong with entrenched political interests. All of this has been exposed by Donald Trump. And polls show that millions of American voters approve of the direction he’s taken the country in.

Bill Thomas, as much as he is in love with Georgia, tried but could not find the Georgian Embassy in the Row. It's probably not in a very conspicuous spot in DC, but it’s OK – there is always such thing as ‘next time’ for consolation.

By Nugzar B. Ruhadze from Washington DC

23 August 2018 19:08