March 1, 2012

Washington Scene: Amidst the Noise and Haste: Some Respite

By Warren Belmar

The 2012 Presidential and Congressional election campaigns are already in full swing, well before the conventions late this summer and Election Day in November. Based upon the tenor of the rhetoric to date, it seems safe to say that there is little prospect this year for bipartisan efforts to deal with the reality of the critical economic issues facing the nation. 

As a result, we will once again have to watch the inaction of our elected officials as they kick the can down the road and bring us ever closer to the precipice that follows. 

However, just as there were monasteries during the Middle Ages, there are still nonpartisan organizations and institutions in Washington where the opportunity for social and political interaction are preserved and revered without the contentiousness that is all too often prevalent in today’s political arena. For those who wish to partake of this side of the legislative, judicial, or historical Washington scene, I suggest you visit the websites of four of my favorites. They are:

(1)  The Bipartisan Policy Center (www.bipartisanpolicy.org). Founded in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole, and George Mitchell, its mission is to combine “politically-balanced policymaking with strong, proactive advocacy and outreach.”

(2)  The Supreme Court Historical Society (www.supremecourthistory.org). Founded in 1974, its mission is to collect and preserve the Court’s history “by conducting educational programs,

. . . supporting historical research, publishing books, journals, and electronic materials, and by collecting antiques and artifacts related to the Court’s history.”

(3)  The United States Capitol Historical Society (www. uschs.org). Founded in 1972, its mission is to “educate the public on the history and heritage of the U. S. Capitol Building, its institutions and the people who have served therein.”

(4 )The Blair House Restoration Fund (www.blairhouse. org). Since 1942, Blair House has been the official residence of presidential guests. It serves U.S. foreign policy by providing “a gracious residence, meeting place, and sanctuary for visiting heads of state.”

These organizations, like our Senior Lawyers Division, are open to all and afford those who choose to seek them out an opportunity to reflect upon, enjoy, and foster the spirit embodied in their respective missions in an atmosphere free from the overzealous partisanship of today’s Washington scene.