- The Washington Times - Monday, June 27, 2005

In January, the 5,000 or so successful applicants for congressional internships in Washington will be joined by a young Englishman who graduates from Bristol University this summer — Euan Blair.

The eldest son of the British prime minister will spend three months working on the Republican-run House Rules Committee, and then is expected to serve an internship with an as-yet-unnamed Democrat.

It is not known how Mr. Blair, 21, ended up applying for his internship, but for most American candidates, the process involves bombarding their local congressman with letters full of glowing references. There also is the friendly telephone call from a well-placed relative or family friend.

Committee staff members were on orders when contacted last week to say nothing except to confirm that Mr. Blair would be joining them for three months. Jo Maney, the committee’s press secretary, insisted it was a normal internship application, sealed by a telephone interview with the candidate.

Ryan Keller, a 25-year-old who interned last summer for Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, explained how the twin-track application process works.

“Of course, you have to have a lot of qualifications — good grades in college, strong involvement in extracurricular activities and great references. But in my case, it was incredibly helpful that I also rowed on my university crew team with Senator Dodd’s nephew,” he said.

Ganesh Sitaraman, one of the authors of “Invisible Citizens: Youth Politics After September 11,” said that getting an internship was the top priority for politically ambitious young Americans.

“It really is one of the most coveted positions. It seems like the quick and easy route to success. But for most interns, the job purely involves answering the phones, getting the congressman’s suit pressed and, most of all, doing stacks of photocopying,” he said.

Internships for foreigners are rare, he said. “A congressman’s first priority is giving jobs to someone from his home district or, failing that, his state. It’s an old-fashioned form of political patronage.”

Rahul Rohatgi, a former intern for Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., Illinois Democrat, agreed.

“During my time in Washington, I met hundreds of interns, and I can’t remember a single one of them coming from abroad. Euan seems well-qualified, though. Leicester Square will have prepared him perfectly to be a congressional intern: All the time you don’t spend working, you spend drinking.”

Mr. Blair was found drunk under age in London’s Leicester Square in 2000, but will be able to drink legally in Washington.


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