The Capitol Express

By Guest Contributor

As Congress resumes its session, and with the Presidential Inauguration just eight days away, D.C. is full of activity.

This week kicked off with the appointment of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense and John Brennan as the head of the CIA. As soon as President Barack Obama finished the announcement, journalists immediately pounced – especially on Hagel, whose stance on Israeli-Palestinian relations has been called into question by the media.

Controvesy regarding Hagel was soon brushed aside by the ever-present news cycle. On Friday, our collective attention was consumed by the arrival of a foreign guest – Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai. Obama and Karzai had a meeting to discuss the future of Afghanistan and the role of the United States in that nation’s future.

The journalists at the White House report in all languages: French, German and Chinese, among others. They lined up in front of the White House just to gain a place to sit in the East Room for a seat at the post-meeting press conference.

However, beyond the vague promise of an “accelerated” transition timeline from summer  through to spring, the two did not disclose much except re-affirming the American commitment to help build a democratic, thriving Afghan state.

White sitting in the East Room and listening to these grand statements of hope, I still wondered about the “small people.”

When will my Afghan friends be able to return home safely, free from sexual harassment and political attacks? Even though Obama and Karzai envision a democratic state in future, will one really come to be?

Hamid Karzai is alleged to be corrupt and has himself blamed the U.S. for many problems in Afghanistan. All these complex problems point to the fact that there is a long way for Afghanistan to go.

The biggest buzz in D.C. these days is the fesitivities surrounding the Inauguration.

The National Mall at the Smithsonian museum is completely blocked for setting up tents, chairs and platforms for celebration.

On Pennsylvania Avenue, green metallic stands are set up in front of the White House and the neighboring government buildings to receive the estimate 800,000 people who will be rushing into D.C. next weekend.

Fun fact: Obama will take the oath twice since January 20, 2013 falls on a Sunday. He will first make a private oath on Sunday and a public oath on Monday, making him a president who will take the oath four times.

Each day, the Presidential Inauguration Committee releases more information about the festivities and the swearing-in ceremony. Katy Perry, the Glee cast, Beyoncé and Usher are among the performers that will accompany the President to celebrate his second inauguration.

Even though the official festivities sound unbelievable, the unofficial events are meant to be even better

I can’t wait to see how politicians socialize and dance – will they behave just like we do?

Written by WINNIE YEUNG ’15 from Washington D.C. as a (Winter Term) White House Intern

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