My latest article, “Angel is Airborne,” is out in the new November Washingtonian, recreating most famous Air Force One flight of all time—LBJ’s trip back from Dallas on November 22, 1963, and all of the drama, history, and personal conflict that played out on the 132-minute flight back. (“Angel,” as you may know, is the codename for Air Force One.)
It’s a mammoth article, the biggest we’ve published in fifteen years—over 18,000 words split across two parts—and it’s got a special fancy treatment online from our web team, which is worth checking out even if you’re not going to read the piece.
The story also includes rarely seen documents and photos, like the photos of JFK’s casket being loaded onto Air Force One in Dallas, LBJ’s handwritten to-do list upon becoming president, and the original flight manifest, hurriedly written by an Air Force steward on board that day. When I first found the manifest in the archives at the LBJ Library this summer, which begins with LBJ and Lady Bird and continues through the 40-some passengers the steward recorded, my heart stopped at his final notation scrawled across the bottom: “Body of Pres K—.”
This piece marks a new experiment for Washingtonian: We published only the first part of the article in the print magazine—to read the whole article, including “Part II: In the Air,” readers can either download the Washingtonian tablet edition or go online.
This weekend marked the tenth anniversary of Howard Dean’s presidential campaign kick-off, a moment that brought many of the original staff back to Burlington for a reunion. There aren’t too many campaigns that would have cause for a tenth reunion, except that the Dean campaign is even more exceptional ten years out than it seemed at the time. I did a number of interviews this past week, explaining the campaign’s transformational significance in US politics. Among them:
“If you look around at every major political institution in the Democratic Party today, it is either run by a Dean alumnus or by somebody who has studied and adopted the Dean model,” Graff said.
Burlington Free Press:
Beyond statistics, however, Graff’s most cherished campaign memory took place in New York City on the last stop of the Sleepless Summer Tour in August 2003: “There were 10,0000 people in Bryant Park. Most of us on the staff had joined without any expectation he could win. Same for Dean. But, suddenly, we really thought we were going to change the world. It was a magical night.”
Garrett Graff, whom Trippi credits with coming up with the ham sandwich idea, is editor of The Washingtonian magazine.
I was a guest yesterday on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” discussing the future of the FBI and the appointment of Jim Comey. We had a good discussion, with Jennifer Lynch from EFF, and former FBI/CIA executive Phil Mudd, who I came to know through my book research. You can listen to the full segment here.
The word that Jim Comey will likely be nominated to be the next director of the FBI has kept me busy for the last 24 hours. I wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post this morning, arguing that Comey’s record on civil liberties might make him an excellent director for the next era of the Bureau: “It’s that strong moral compass that the president apparently wants to lead the nation’s chief domestic law enforcement agency. That Obama would seek out someone who has so jealously guarded civil liberties, even at great personal and career risk, speaks more loudly than his speech about the legacy he wants to leave in the fight against terrorism.”
On Washingtonian, I wrote a quick post about “What You Should Know About Jim Comey” and then a much longer adaptation of part of my book “Threat Matrix” that focused on Comey’s background, his role in the March 2004 hospital incident, and his friendship with Bob Mueller: “That dramatic week had united the two men—both career public servants—deepening a friendship forged in the crucible of the highest levels of the national security apparatus after the 9/11 attacks.”