The Washington Post

Stroganoff diplomacy on Capitol Hill?

The House Longworth Cafeteria featured Russian cuisine on Wednesday. (Photo/ courtesy of a Loop Fan who preferred not to be identified.) The House Longworth Cafeteria featured Russian cuisine  Wednesday. (A Loop Fan who preferred not to be identified)

Was someone in the Longworth House Office Building cafeteria keeping a keen eye on the crisis in Syria — and the very deep hole President Obama was in after drawing those squiggly red lines on Syria’s use of chemical weapons?

Just as things were looking bleak — a major political embarrassment loomed as Obama’s call to arms looked certain to fail in the House — up popped Obama’s new BFF, Russian president and former KGB-er Vladimir Putin.

The great Russian democrat’s proposal of a negotiated deal to have Syria strongman Bashar al-Assad give up his poison gas arsenal not only pulled Obama from the political abyss but even gave him an opening to claim his saber-rattling somehow contributed to  a possible deal.

The Longworth cafeteria, like many others, often features a bit of foreign food at its counters for those who might like something besides burgers. And the featured country on Wednesday? Russia!

Yes, the “Global” food counter featured “Beef Stroganoff, Thyme Egg Noodles, Roast Root Vegetable” and “Sweet and Sour Cabbage.” Yummy. But no borscht, no blah, blah, blah. All you can eat for 55 cents an ounce.

Far as we can tell, there doesn’t appear to be a political motivation at work here, though. The weekly menus are planned in advance. (Thursday’s featured food is from Argentina. Tuesday was the Philippines.)

Meanwhile, some Loop Fans have wondered why Congress didn’t engage in “cafeteria retaliation” against the British for not backing Obama’s threatened use of force against Damascus.

After all, outraged lawmakers wisely demanded government cafeterias drop mentions of French cuisine — French fries were re-named Freedom fries — when Paris didn’t back President Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

There’s been no menu action this time perhaps because Congress was on vacation — and understandably confused by Obama’s constant shifts.

The greater problem in this instance may have been that no one particularly likes British food, so there weren’t many options: Fish and chips to Fish and French fries or  English muffins to Cowardly Crumpets?

In any event, Obama should be grateful that the Great Sloucher has stepped in. Beats eating crow.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

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