A trip to New York and Washington in the autumn is always pleasant. This year, the mid-term elections approach, and the continued high death toll in Iraq provides an uncomfortable backdrop for the Republicans.
Jack Straw re-ignited public debate here on Iraq when he described the situation in Baghdad as 'dire'. That would be polite language in the US, where it is hard to find anyone who supports President Bush's policy - except Democrat Joe Lieberman, who was de-selected by his party as a result.
The difference in Washington, of course, is that the Republican right are also opposed to the Bush strategy. They favour a far larger American military commitment on the lines that proved so successful in Vietnam.