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Tell President Obama Where He Can Go


Despite the fact that he decided to live here for eight years, I don't think George W. Bush has ever really liked Washington. When you spend a lot of time saying how awful a place is--even metaphorically--you look kind of silly if you're seen to be enjoying it. I think that explains why Bush hasn't been an around-town sort of president, taking advantage of what our city has to offer: the museums, the restaurants, the parks, the local teams, the nightlife.

Maybe that will be different with Barack Obama. Or maybe it won't. He, too, ran "against" Washington. So did his opponent, though as far as I can tell, John McCain is even more of a Washingtonian--teen years here, college in Annapolis, working at the Pentagon, then decades on Capitol Hill--than half the people I rub up against on the Metro. But I suppose no politician can run the risk of having fun here. Better to go halfway across the country to clear brush than go to Rock Creek Park to rip out porcelain berry.

But it doesn't have to be that way. I hope Obama will do more to interact with Washington--the city and the entire region--than make the occasional Sunday walk to St. John's church. He and his family can hike the Billy Goat Trail. Drive out to Sugarloaf. See the foliage along Skyline Drive. He can go to Wizards games, or even Caps ones. (Start courting the hockey mom vote for 2012!) President Obama could even throw his weight around a little. Want an after-hours tour of the National Zoo? No problem, Mr. President. Wanna ring the bells in the Old Post Office tower? Go right ahead. Your kids want to sleep over in the Natural History Museum? Bring some sleeping bags.

What other things could our new president and the First Family do to settle themselves into our fair city, to become honorary Washingtonians?

[Thanks to David Stinson for the postcard.]

By John Kelly  |  November 5, 2008; 10:15 AM ET
 | Tags: Barack Obama, Washington  
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Dubya was too busy clogging up the highways to get to Camp David to enjoy any local scenery.

Posted by: simonsaid | November 5, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Take the kids to Glen Echo.

Since he's such a basketball fan, it'd be great if he would come out to the City Title game.

Posted by: staxowax | November 5, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

At the risk of being yelled at by that DC-centric commenter from the first day, I'd invite them down to Alexandria for the Christmas Walk on December December 6th. Its a fun time and I'm sure his kids would enjoy it. In fact, I'm sure Mayor Bill Euille would invite the Obamas to join in if they wanted to.

Posted by: mfromalexva | November 5, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I just had a vivid image of the Secret Service trying to do their thing on the billy goat trail. Had a keystone cops vibe to it.

I think they should visit the Franciscan Monastery over in the Brookland neighborhood in NE. It is truly lovely and peaceful. If you haven't been, you should go in the spring when the gardens are in bloom...

Posted by: megtheegg | November 5, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

"When you spend a lot of time saying how awful a place is--even metaphorically--you look kind of silly if you're seen to be enjoying it. I think that explains why Bush hasn't been an around-town sort of president..."

I don't think that Bush necessarily dislikes Washington. I think the reason he's a hermit has a lot more to do with post-9/11 security. He probably likes going to Camp David/Crawford/etc. because he can roam freely without a massive security detail.

Posted by: bpm2000 | November 5, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Heck - Bush wouldn't even walk across Lafayette Park. I've seen him go by full SS/USPP/MPD motorcade from The White House to the US Chamber of Commerce buidling across the park on G Street. Of course I used to get stuck behind Clinton as he would take his morning jogs around the Tidal Basin while I was trying to drive to work.

Posted by: TC14 | November 5, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I like the idea of the Natl. Zoo, WELL after hours, please. He should do it early on, before the Zoo reminds him too much of Congress.

Teddy Roosevelt liked (duh!) Roosevelt Island, and JFK liked to walk in Arlington Cemetery.

Posted by: reddragon1 | November 6, 2008 7:32 AM | Report abuse

I second the Roosevelt Island suggestion. And the view of downtown from the Old Post Office bell tower is worth seeing. And I'm probably going to be yelled at as not DC-centric enough for suggesting the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

Posted by: LemonBlossom | November 6, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Realizing in this day and age that sometimes it's difficult for a President to step out of the White House to see DC, I suggest he call for a takeout order at Ben's Chili Bowl. That will make anyone a Washingtonian.

Also, I believe there is a box with his "name" on it waiting at Nats Park. It's nowhere near the same experience as watching the White Sox in Chicago, but can be nice on a summer evening.

Posted by: NatsPhan123 | November 6, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

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