Barack and Hamid’s Excellent Adventure

Afghanistan’s president visits the White House.

  1. The best month to visit Washington is May, after the April rains have ended but before the mindless election noise begins. The White House grass is a super-high-definition green that really pops when the network correspondents do their stand-ups. Breathing in the perfumed air, the members of the pack can feel just a hint of summer humidity coming on as they wait on the sunken asphalt driveway to ascend to the Palm Room for a joint statement from the elected leaders of America and Afghanistan. Something about the balmy weather and creamy paint job causes a wavering distortion in my normally solid sense of place, and I imagine for a moment that I am standing outside the service entrance of a mansion in Bel Air belonging to one of the legendary old studio heads, whose houses looked exactly like this but with bigger swimming pools. All that’s missing is a sun-bleached dumpster piled high with black bags of trash.

    It is funny to watch the reporters pretend not to hear the sound that I am v...

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Originally published in Harper's, August 2010

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