Views from the nation’s capital

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After last week’s violent assault on the U.S. Capitol, I reached out to several Rochester natives who work in Washington, D.C. I invited them to share their perspective on the attack and its aftermath.  

Here’s what they had to say:

Wayne Berman

Senior managing director for government relations

The Blackstone Group

Wayne Berman

Having lived and worked in Washington for over 40 years, I was shocked and deeply offended by the violence visited on our nation’s Capitol yesterday.

Disrupting Congress’ constitutionally mandated certification of the Electoral College vote by rampaging through the very symbol of our Republic was a criminal act. I salute the courageous law enforcement officers who restored order and the members of the House and Senate who finished their essential work. Our Republic held and our government institutions and elected representatives were durable and resolute.

Rachel Bovard

Senior director of policy

Conservative Partnership Institute

What happened at the Capitol was a tragedy, plain and simple. Protestors should never have been allowed to breach the building or threaten the safety of Members. 

Rachel Bovard

As we move forward as a country, however, I think it is important to ask ourselves why the protestors were there. They were egged on by the president, to be sure, but there is also a sense of palpable frustration in the base of the Republican party with their elected leadership, whom they feel condescends to and dismisses their concerns. The complex reasons that brought thousands of Americans to Washington this week aren’t going away once President Trump leaves office. More importantly, these are still Americans, and their concerns still matter. 

To truly be a party that speaks to a broad swath of voters in a post-Trump era, the GOP will need to rethink how they engage their voters with a policy and political effort that actually serves the voters, instead of themselves.

Tom Hamburger

National political reporter

The Washington Post

I was deeply distressed by the events Wednesday at the Capitol, and the aftermath. I have worked in the Capitol press gallery since I arrived in Washington in the 1970s and have developed affection for the building and the sense of it as the people’s House.  

Tom Hamburger

I’m also a resident of Capitol Hill, so I was affected both professionally and personally. I covered some of the events leading up to the assault on the Capitol for my newspaper and had colleagues inside the building huddled in “undisclosed locations.”

As I watched the opening of the electoral vote joint session on television from my house, I could hear bullhorns and sirens and the explosion of flashbang devices. I talked with shaken longtime neighbors, worried not only about the spillover of violence from protesters but about the reports of homemade bombs at the Capitol and nearby headquarters of the two major political parties. They were disarmed. But the neighbors wondered, how many more were there? And we all asked: why was the Capitol not more prepared for this event, which was foreshadowed and encouraged in previous weeks by the president and his allies.

Heather Podesta

Founder and CEO

Invariant LLC

Heather Podesta

The voters have spoken. They are ready for new leadership in the White House and the Senate. Last week, President Trump sought to overturn their will and the results of a fair election. He incited an attack on the Capitol, he “loves” those people, and continues to knowingly lie to the American people about the election results.  Like the majority of Americans, I believe he needs to be removed from office immediately before the damage worsens.  

There is reason to be optimistic in this darkest of dark days. The day before the insurrection the voters in Georgia chose hope and a new era in American politics by choosing Senator-elect Raphael Warnock and Senator-elect Jon Ossoff. The Senate, with a narrow Democratic majority, will have the ability to move forward on addressing our nation’s most pressing issues.

My thanks to Tom, Wayne, Heather and Rachel for responding almost immediately to the Beacon’s request for statements.  

To close, I’ll just add my two cents, which is this: Whatever supporters of the president who forced their way into the Capitol building sought to achieve, the results were exactly the opposite. So, among the many names they have been called—rioters, insurrectionists, thugs—I’ll add another (paraphrasing a Beatles song title): Fools on the Hill.  

Peter Lovenheim, journalist and author of “In the Neighborhood” and “The Attachment Effect” is Washington correspondent for the Rochester Beacon. He can be reached at [email protected].

2 thoughts on “Views from the nation’s capital

  1. Thanx for capturing these reactions Peter. It gives me some hope that there are folks in positions of influence with a measure of decency and respect for our democracy.

  2. Is this rehabilitation ? Like many corporations now scrambling for the high ground ,
    Blackstone’s political PAC and lobbying money has blood on it’s hands too . They helped
    fund and elect this fascist bigot and his sycophants . They have made much money on workers
    pension funds , and those investments should be re-directed ASAP .

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