UConn Law in the Capital, Part III: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: One Student’s Foray into the Political Thicket

Peter Smith pondering the Capitol.

By Peter Smith

WASHINGTON — The Beltway. The Windy Apple. After three months here, I am officially part of the establishment, and therefore disqualified from running an outsider campaign for President. Fortunately, I’m not too jaded to provide a travelogue for y’all (whoops, Southern influence).

This semester I’m working at the Department of Education. Every day I step off the Metro and walk into Ed with a smug smile, in defiance of all the presidential hopefuls who want to cut the department, at least when they can remember it. The externship is completely different from anything else in law school. Rather than writing legal briefs, I analyze policy questions for the Equity and Excellence Commission, which is developing recommendations for states and local districts to make access to education more equitable. The work is very current—for example, the day after President Obama announced new Head Start regulations, my supervisor asked me to look into them and tell him how they relate to the Commission’s ideas on the topic. It’s exciting to think that my work may, in some small way, affect national educational policy. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty much the most powerful intern in Washington now.

Of course, there is more to do in Washington than work. Sure, we’re not the “rising star” that Hartford is, but we still have plenty of clovers and blue moons. In fact, clovers and stars combine at The Star and Shamrock, an Irish-Jewish pub with a fusion menu and plenty of He’Brew on tap. D.C. has a wide assortment of bars and clubs, so there’s something for everyone. U Street is a veritable cornucopia of sounds and flavors, pulsing on Saturday nights with live jazz, reggae, and bowls of chili. Dupont also promises the possibility of wacky adventures. Be sure not to miss Mad Hatter, which is similar to Black Bear but with more white rabbits, or the free happy hour taco bar at Front Page, featuring a whole roasted pig. Finish the night with a Now and Zen burger (soy sauce, ginger, sesame) at Black and Orange. As for the most authentic gyros this side of Athens, a trip to Cava near Eastern Market is a must for foodies everywhere.

We’ve made the most of our time here, visiting different agencies every week, seeing the do-nothing Congress in action, and sitting in on a Supreme Court argument. I even snapped an obligatory campaign photo with the Capitol building in the background. I wish I could stay longer, and if Pro Se sponsors me, I would gladly be a full-time bar and restaurant reviewer. No? Ok. See y’all in January.

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