Minutes before the candidates' forum began on a sweltering day at the South DeKalb Mall, incumbent U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) was just "Cynthia" to her beloved DeKalb County voters, kissing elderly ladies and hamming it up for the cameras. "Ding a ling! Ding a ling!" she shouted, announcing the free ice cream for kids. Then her challenger, Denise Majette, arrived, and the pair faced the audience, McKinney alongside Augusta's own Vernon Forrest, the World Boxing Council welterweight champion. McKinney seemed to own the crowd, but three days later Majette, a relatively unknown black judge, beat the five-term incumbent by 16 points -- with help from tens of thousands of Republicans.
Six thousand miles from the daily bloodshed in the Middle East, a small community of Jewish, Arab and Muslim journalists have an almost luxurious freedom in Washington. We rub elbows at hearings on the Hill with one another, share notes at luncheon speeches and chat outside dueling press briefings. I'm a reporter for the Forward, a Jewish paper, and I have access to roughly the same daily spread of material as the Arab reporters I know.