Marjorie Williams (1958-2005)
Washington's most dangerous profiler.
Political feminists, she discovers, are as easily corrupted as any special interest group. As long as the Clinton administration advanced their agenda, the personal need not equal the political for feminists, she finds to her disappointment.
Marjorie's best Washington pieces analyze the social structure of the city and the values of its prominent citizens, values she didn't accept. Breaking apart such machers as Vernon Jordan, Colin Powell, Al Gore, Terry McAuliffe, James Baker, and Strobe Talbott to see what made them tick was how she earned her living, but she never aspired to their world as do so many Washington "power" journalists. Marjorie and her husband, Slate's Timothy Noah, preferred the shabby chic of D.C.'s Takoma Park neighborhood, devoting themselves to their son and daughter and lavishing their ample love on friends.
A decade ago when I was a bachelor, I visited their Whittier Street N.W. house one evening for a family-style holiday dinner party. I remember turning to Marjorie, and gesturing at her son, the obstacle course of ugly plastic toys underfoot, and the many noisy moms and dads, and saying, "You know, I wouldn't mind living like this someday." I got the gaze, of course, and the question: "Why thank you, Jack, but what's keeping you?" A few years ago, I figured it out and—to Marjorie's delight—that someday arrived.
Someday the great Washington novel of power and scheming, of campaign hacks and backroom deals will be written. But until that day comes, my key to that world will be the collected journalism of Marjorie Williams.