From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
Waiting in line... in Washington DC

January 27, 2004 3:31 PM

James Fallows in The Age of Murdoch:

No civics text has the stomach to describe Washington's "wait in line" industry. When a famous witness is to appear before a committee of Congress, or a famous case is to be argued at the Supreme Court, tourists imagine they can drop in to watch; but they discover that the line for admission formed well before dawn. Professionals in town-lawyers, lobbyists-can't afford to be left out, especially if clients' money is at stake. So they hire services to do the waiting for them.

On the days of big events, lines resembling those outside soup kitchens or for-pay blood banks snake through marble corridors in House and Senate office buildings and spill out onto the sidewalk long before most staffers show up for work. At 9:45 or so, for the typical 10:00 A.M. committee hearing, taxis and town cars begin depositing passengers who have come from breakfast or early meetings at their firms. The paid placeholders hold up little signs with names on them, like limo drivers greeting arrivals at an airport, and the switch occurs. Someone with wild hair or wearing several sweatshirts leaves his place in line or his seat in the hearing room, and someone in a nice suit steps in. Economically the arrangement makes sense, but it's a little too crass a reminder of the different standing of citizens before their democratic government.

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Waiting in line... in Washington DC (01.27.2004)

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Read the 1 comments.


Couple years back I remember that very scenerio - for people waiting in line for the new Harleys!

Wed Jan 28 2004 8:51 AM

Jim Gilliam
Jim Gilliam


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