When New Yorker writer George Packer started subbing for Ryan Lizza in Washington, the White House had some helpful advice.
“Cover Washington as if it’s a foreign capital. Cover it like Baghdad,” Packer says a senior Obama aide told him, in a post on the New Yorker‘s website. (It’s not so surprising, given the Obama administration’s general frustration with the capital.)
Packer, who wrote a very good book about Iraq, took the suggestion to heart. In his big piece on the U.S. Senate this week, the upper house comes across as a bickering body that could rival any emerging democracy in its dysfunction.
That didn’t stop Packer from having a good time. “Of course, the institution is in a deep decline, but when you’re reporting a story like this, you don’t depress yourself, because the inquiry is bracing,” he wrote. “It’s the poor reader who ends up depressed.”