Sunday, November 3, 2013

Theater of the Absurd

I thought politics in Afghanistan were ridiculous, but now that I'm in DC, I have a mezzanine seat in the theater of the absurd. Congress has an all-time low approval rating. Media coverage of the so-called shutdown* seemed more like a mockumentary of a fictional country directed by Christopher Guest. Are we really in a position to lecture the Afghans about the virtues of democracy when the clowns we've democratically elected demonstrate an abysmal lack of leadership?

The inner workings of the State Department are also disheartening. It wasn't so bad when I was watching from the bleacher seats overseas. But up close… Is this really how it works? In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I was passed over for promotion last month and am still a little bitter about it. Regardless, I think it would be easy to find promoted FSOs who would agree that the manner in which decisions are made and priorities set is not always sensible.

So I keep my head down and focus on the work. Amid the cuckoos, there are some really smart people working at the State Department and I just need to latch myself to them and learn as much as I can.

*Let's be honest, the government didn't actually shutdown. A lot of people were furloughed, true, but flights continued, our borders were patrolled, foreign visitors were cleared through customs, federal entitlements were paid out, even the mail was delivered. That's not a true shutdown.