Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor beat power outages and Washington traffic yesterday to give a speech at the National Press Club that chastised Washington politicians, advocating a less divisive American political scene.
O'Connor arrived at the Press Club five minutes after power was restored to the building, narrowly averting a glitch in what has been a busy few weeks of talks--including about the video game she's promoting. (But more on that later.)
"I'm concerned with what I see in Congress," O'Connor said after the speech. "It's very difficult there to develop a consensus. I think it's still possible in this world of ours, but it's become less frequent." O'Connor hoped that college-aged students -- and younger -- would respond to her calls for greater statesmanship and civic-mindedness.
"I just need people in Congress who are more willing to try to achieve something," O'Connor said.
The speech coincided with the announcement of the names of rising college seniors from across the country who will study diplomacy this summer at the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship in Lexington, Ky.
Last week, O'Connor announced the upcoming release of "Our Courts," a computer game targeted at middle-schoolers that would engage them with court issues and try to make up for the decline of civics classes in American schools.
"My grandchildren, and everybody else's grandchildren, will sit in front of a computer screen and play games. They like that," O'Connor said. "I think we need to let them consider an actual legal issue, a constitutional issue, and let them develop some arguments and think it through."
"When they learn something by doing," O'Connor said, "they'll remember it."
O'Connor had little to say about the presidential campaign. "I don't follow it too closely," she remarked, "but as far as I can see, it's been civil."