Capital Offense

By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 26, 2008

On a recent Wednesday evening, when the sidewalks of Adams Morgan were empty and the bars were filled with people bathed in the patriotic TV glow of Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama duking it out one last time, a man and woman walked down a deserted U Street.

Blatantly and brazenly not watching the debate.

"I know, it's awful," says the woman, Julie, nervously. The seriousness of this offense does not escape her.

And if her friends knew?

"They would shun me."

Julie doesn't want to give her last name.

Someone says that telling her name might be liberating. Julie could be a role model to every Washingtonian who has ever used "The Daily Show" as political CliffsNotes, who has ever frantically Googled "Evan Bayh" after a joke everyone else seemed to think was hilarious, who has ever read not out of genuine interest but because the content would be water-coolered the next day.

Come on, Julie. Come out of the closet for everyone who has ever had to Wikipedia the word "earmarks."

"Miller," she allows finally. "Julie Miller." An economic researcher here in the District.

Hi, Julie. Welcome to Political Inadequates Anonymous, and the sort of shame that exists in no other city in America.

* * *

Inside the Beltway, it is acceptable not to do a lot of things. You can not follow sports, for example, be blissfully unaware of who made it to the Series. It is acceptable -- admirable even -- not to follow Hollywood. You prefer foreign films, anyway.

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