This capital of Washington is a schizophrenic community of men, a split and dual place. It has two coexisting faces, the face of the city, which it shows to the residents within, and the face of the government, which it shows to all the country. And the pleasure or the pain that either face evokes in the mind of the respective beholder are quite separate things, and bear no relation, one to the other.
Elegant words. They're not mine. They were written back when Harry Truman was president and the writer, Eric Sevareid, was beginning his broadcast commentaries for CBS from Washington. A friend, in an early Christmas gift, gave me a small book -- "In One Ear," published by Knopf in 1952. I've savored it, and what Sevareid said about our town is timeless. The words that both precede and follow, except where my words are bracketed, are his.
There are workers and merchants and professional men and women who are born, live and die within the city of Washington . They know the city; the federal government they know not at all. They know the policeman on the corner, the conditions of trade and pleasure and crime, they know the city's courts and schools and the streetcar routes and all the intricacies of local taxes . . . .
All these of Washington inhabit but half this strange community and partake of but half its life. And so, too, with all of those of us, the civil servants, the congressmen, and the journalists, who . . . remain alien to the city people as they remain alien to us; we are most likely to have our origins somewhere else within the nation . . . and to live in the far suburbs . . . .
We must puzzle over a map to locate the city armory, enormous though it is the Redskins and next-door RFK Stadium have made it a much less mysterious locale . The second section of the city papers, which deals with local affairs, is unintelligible to us but, for quite obvious reasons I won't contest, is a tolerable expense to the publisher of this home-town newspaper . We can call to mind the names on the Foreign Affairs Committee, but not the names of the District commissioners today's equivalents: City Council members . . . .
We vaguely know where there are nests of crime and gambling . . . but the two communities of mind and purpose and acquaintance dwell . . . very far apart . . . a little uneasy . . . .
But all of them, of government and city, must eat and drink, pay for clothes, rear their children, and pay their taxes. All are as one within the nation if not within the District, for all are citizens together, and the needs of the nation press upon all alike . . . .