Commentary, Local Commentary

Our Man in Arlington

 For a county nicknamed “The People’s Republic of Arlington,” our sainted parish hosts a surprising number of conservative groups. Goes to show we’re all more complicated than our stereotypes. Herewith a sampling:

If you followed the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization abortion debate in June a year ago, you noticed Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. “The political arm of the pro-life movement” was founded in 1992 by Marjorie Dannenfelser and a group of pro-life women who named it after a famous 19th century suffragette. From its offices on S. Arlington Mill Dr., its activists run a network of more than 1 million “committed to protecting the unborn,” it says. Dannenfelser is frequently interviewed and publishes op-eds.

In the same building is the Susan B. Anthony group’s education arm, the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Founded in 2011 and named for a 19th century feminist physician, it sponsors scientific, statistical and medical research to “educate policymakers, the media and the public on the value of life from fertilization to natural death.”

On the 1300 block of Courthouse Rd. is the national headquarters for Americans for Prosperity, funded through the energy business empire led by Charles and David Koch. With more than 140 offices nationwide, its grassroots, government affairs, communications, political and education and training program seeks to “change the policy landscape in America.” It boasts 4 million activists, 36 state chapters, 73 “pioneer” policy specialists, and 312 endorsed candidates who won in 2022, the year it sent 500,000 letters to Congress.

Next door is its offshoot, the Charles Koch Foundation. Its grant-making to researchers champions “principles that unlock human potential” in criminal justice, economic progress, foreign policy, free speech, education, health care, immigration, and classical “liberalism.”

Headquartered in Clarendon on N. Highland St. is the Leadership Institute. Founded in 1979 by its president, Morton Blackwell, its staff deploys classrooms, video production studios and residential facilities to teach conservative aspirants skills in campaigns, fundraising, grass-roots organizing, youth politics, and communications affecting politics, government and media. It says it has trained more than 250,000 and helped launch more than 2,300 right-thinking campus groups and newspapers.

Down Wilson Blvd. in Rosslyn lie the offices of GOPAC, founded after the disappointing (for conservatives) 1978 elections by Delaware Gov. Pete du Pont. His idea was to “cultivate promising young leaders within the Republican ranks and build a ‘farm team’ of candidates with the knowledge and drive to become a governing majority party.” Under the later leadership of Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia, it set the GOP on a course to gain power at municipal, state and national levels via its training center that offers campaign seminars, workbooks, audiotapes and grass-roots organizing.

For years in the 1990s, an office on Wilson Blvd. was occupied by conservatives in the Independent Women’s Forum. It continues to advance policies “that are more than just well-intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, opportunities, and well-being.” Goals are to “reduce government red tape and return resources and control to people, so that we have healthy communities and people can pursue their own visions of happiness.”

Now with a strong D.C.-area network, the forum’s headquarters moved to Winchester. I was always amused that their Arlington office was just up the road from its opposite number, the liberal, pro-choice Feminist Majority Foundation, whose Washington-area headquarters remains on Wilson Blvd. today.


Sorry to see the demise of the posh Layalina Lebanese/Syrian restaurant at 5216 Wilson Blvd. It’s being renovated and replaced by Ya Hala Bistro, also Middle Eastern cuisine.

One reason for my partiality toward the chronically under-patronized Layalina is the time they gave me customized treatment. When my mother died in 2010, we had a flock of relatives in town for the service, and we needed to gather for a meal. I dutifully made a reservation at Layalina for a Monday dinner.

When our party of perhaps 10 arrived, the proprietor explained that they’re closed on Mondays. But for our grieving family, they had opened.