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The McDermott Scholars Award covers all expenses of a superb four-year academic education at The University of Texas at Dallas, in concert with a diverse array of intensive extracurricular experiences, including internships, travel, and cultural enrichment.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A DC experience

After receiving the Archer Fellowship for Fall of 2005, I followed my heart and its sincere distaste towards hardcore partisan politics and applied to neutral bureaucracies and think tanks, such as the AMA, the Department of Public Health, and the EPA. Once I actually settled into the 19th century New England townhouse with my ten roommates and began haunting the district's doorsteps, resume in tow, my repugnance was transformed into intense curiosity, and I took one of the most politically-charged jobs imaginable: as an assistant to David Corn, Washington editor of The Nation magazine.

Finding its origin during the abolitionist movement (where it was of course in favor of ending the institution of slavery), the magazine hails itself as one of the only true muckraking periodicals left in the world. David Corn, my boss, was the first journalist to sound the alarm that connecting Valerie Plame to the CIA may indicate that someone in the administration violated federal law (Don't believe me? He is mentioned by name in the New York Times timeline). The people at The Nation were true liberal bolsheviks, and since I fancied myself an aspiring political journalist, I vigorously pursued the job and was hired.

I was instantly terrified of the most irate pundit I had ever seen. David had books, papers, magazines, and government documents mounded around the office and took to them frantically with a red pen muttering about lies and inconsistencies. He was crazy, but he didn't hesitate to give me a ton of work--copy editing, researching, and even composing blog entries. It was a lot for a first week, but I appreciated the vote of confidence, albeit my warm fuzzy feelings were often split by flying papers and fits of swearing.

David took some getting used to, but my admiration of his sharp eye and keen knowledge of politics continued to grow. He knew everyone in DC, and even though he was unshakable in his liberal values, his meticulous, cautious fact checking and willingness to concede on principle made him one of the most respected pundits in the country. He trusted me more and more as the months passed, and I can tout several once in a lifetime opportunities as a result -- an interview with Senators Barack Obama and Tom Coburn on private security funds, getting harassed by Howard Stern, snarky phone banter with Ann Coulter, an article posted in a national publication, and, my personal favorite, stampeding down a courtroom hallway with several dozen reporters to grab the first copy of the Libby indictments.

My experience in DC was nothing short of amazing. Outside of a very successful tenure at The Nation, I made great friends, fell in love with the district, and found a calling in punditing and public policy.

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