Photo: Dan Freedman / Hearst Connecticut Media
For Ananya Kachru of Woodbridge and Annie Wang of Cheshire, a week in Washington as delegates to the annual Hearst Senate Youth Program was a life-changing experience, one that “I haven’t fully processed yet,” as Kachru put it.
The two were Connecticut’s representatives to an assemblage of 104 high school students, roughly two from every state. The annual event is sponsored by the Hearst Foundation.
Students met with a vast array of Washington officials, up to and including President Donald Trump and Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
But perhaps the most inspirational encounter of all was the one with Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., one of the few remaining original Civil Rights-era pioneers who walked beside Rev. Martin Luther King in the legendary Selma-to-Montgomery march in 1965.
“I couldn’t stop the tears from rushing down my face as a man who is literally a piece of history stood before me and gave us advice and told his story,” said Wang, a senior at Cheshire High School who hopes to be a military lawyer and eventually run for public office. “Among a room with many delegates who are people of color, our stories would be very different without John Lewis.”
Another highlight certainly was the White House visit.
“I will never forget the president walking in, pausing, and exclaiming, ‘what a good looking group of kids’ to the 104 of us, before speaking briefly about his most recent work with North Korea,” said Kachru, a senior at Amity Regional High School who will be attending Yale this fall. “Regardless of political affiliation, it was an honor to be in the White House and walk through hallways and rooms filled with history.”
And yet another highlight was seeing Gorsuch speak in the historic Supreme Court chamber, where all arguments in cases epic and unheard-of have unfolded since construction finished in 1935.
Gorsuch, a Colorado conservative appointee of Trump who won confirmation only last year, admonished students to disagree “without being disagreeable.”
If you think a week of back-to-back meetings with Washington insiders including Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy is a lot to digest, you would be correct.
Their time in the nation’s capital “was emotional, rejuvenating, and filled with hope,” said Kachru, who has been active with the Connecticut State Student Advisory Council on Education. “Sometimes it feels like politics is portrayed as a game, but meeting and engaging with the highest elected and appointed officials in America completely shattered that perception.”
Warning to any and all with thoughts of opposing Rep. Jim Himes: If you have sub rosa Russia connections, he’s coming after you!
Backstory: Himes sits on the House Intelligence Committee and has witnessed enough political intrigue there to fill two seasons worth of “House of Cards” scripts.
One recurring Republican leitmotif in the committee’s now-kaput Trump-Russia investigation was the alleged failure of the FBI to clarify the political motivation in its warrant application for spying on hapless Trump boob Carter Page.
Himes and fellow committee Democrats, for their part, undercut the claim that the FBI relied on the “dodgy” dossier of ex-British secret agent Christopher Steele, and that Steele’s work ultimately was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC.
The Democratic memo that ultimately emerged showed the FBI did, indeed, tell the judge of Steele’s bias. And, in any case, Dems weren’t the only ones who hired the Steele intermediary for opposition research.
The Free Beacon, a conservative online news outlet funded by N.Y. hedge-fund billionaire and big-time GOP financier Paul Singer, also sought out the intermediary (Fusion GPS) to dig up dirt on Trump.
Aha, Republicans answered, Free Beacon never knew Fusion GPS was hiring Steele and clearly disavowed the Steele dossier (complete with its scurrilous reporting on Trump activities in Russia … think “golden shower.”)
Well, Himes chimed in when asked, Hillary and the DNC didn’t know they were signing up for Steele either. And besides, he said, “opposition research is opposition research.”
(Rough translation: Truth trumps source. If it’s true, it doesn’t make much difference who dug it up.)
“If my opponent is shown to be in collusion with Russia, I’m going to talk about it!” Himes said.
So there you have it, 4th CD wannabes. Don’t say you weren’t warned.