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Are we summit-worthy?

During my online chat today, many people wanted to weigh in on this question: Should Washington be hosting the nuclear security summit? We weren't talking global diplomacy and the future of mankind. This was just about why D.C. commuters had to endure the hassle.

[Afternoon update: D.C. traffic continues to move well, and we have no major transit problems. Some streets beyond the Mount Vernon Square security zone have parking restrictions today, including the 2400 block of M Street NW. Watch for white and red signs posted on parking meters. Some additional streets could be closed to traffic at police discretion. There may be more motorcades across the central and western portions of the District than there were this morning.]

I was surprised how strongly people felt about the question of whether it was practical for us to host such an even. After all, we've had plenty of time to settle into who we are, as the Capital of the Free World. And the summit traffic this morning really wasn't bad at all.

It started off this way.

Q. Why is this summit being held in DC during the tourist season? Obviously the Obama admin doesn't care about DC area residents or folks who work in the area. I wasn't aware that our form of govt had changed to a dictatorship where the voters and the workers lives don't mean squat. Couldn't they have had this summit in some out of the way place? The Obama administration is a bunch of arrogant over educated liberals! Shame on them!

I asked if people thought it was weird to hold the nuke summit at this time and place. These were a couple of the responses.

Q. Summit
I agree with the previous poster. I see no reason for the nuclear summit to be in D.C. The entire D.C. area is overpopulated and congested to begin with and this doesn't help. Other than pure convenience for the White House, it would make more sense to have the summit somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Not only would it affect less people, but security for the attendees would be easier to handle.

Q. Always a good time to talk about nuclear policy
I strongly disagree that the President Obama was "arrogant" in scheduling the summit during "tourist season." I applaud the effort to safeguard our nation's security, tourists and all. I suspect that the writer would say the same thing if the summit was held in the middle of winter (interferes with snow removal?). I had an easy commute into work today. I have more concerns about tourists who stand two abreast on the metro escalators at rush hour than I do about a minor inconvenience for such an important issue.

Q. Gridlock
It does seem strange that people who are in Washington because that is where the federal government is believe that the government is dictatorial because it holds meetings that conflict with their drive time. Whenever I am mildly inconvenienced by the hordes of tourists and cars that flood the capital during this season, I recognize that it is their capital too and put up with the inconvenience.

Here are a couple I didn't get a chance to publish during the chat.

Q. Tourist season and summit
There is a "tourist" season in DC? This is the capital of the country -- it really is tourist season year round with the exception of winter -- January through maybe mid/early March. Because they're here so often, I don't think you can call it a season. But even if there was an official high volume tourist season -- say for 3 months -- it doesn't mean that the president should take [into consideration] the concern of the people of the city when trying to plan a summit of world leaders to talk about nuclear security that could prevent a bomb from going off in our own back yard. Lots of people live here because of the government and its security and jobs; that means you take the associated actions with it.

Q. The summit
There are no doubt sound reasons for having the nuclear summit in the capital of the world's biggest nuclear power. The question is whether it really needs to be held at the Washington Convention Center, at the confluence of major traffic routes? It would be less disruptive, and also more secure, to have it at a hotel/resort somewhere in the Washington area. You can restrict downtown parking and traffic for a couple blocks in every direction, but the whole area is still an inviting target. A resort could be sealed off for miles.

My take
-- Our transportation and security people have had a lot of practice arranging world events, and that practice appears to have paid off once again today, just as it did during the inauguration.
-- We talk so often about the need to locate offices and residences close together. In the case of the summit, we needed a big venue where more than 40 world leaders could meet and still be close to their staffs at the embassies.
-- We participate in being the nation's capital. It's part of our self-definition, and it includes the free museums, the big white buildings, the motorcades and the barricades.

What's your take?

By Robert Thomson  |  April 12, 2010; 3:12 PM ET
Categories:  Congestion , Events  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock  
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What dumb sh!t thinks there's no tourist season? It's April-October and is well known by anyone who bothers to step outside or tries to ride Metro. You know it's tourist season when the people blocking the escalator or trying to rape themselves into one door of a train are all wearing the same shirt.

Posted by: jiji1 | April 12, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

I mean, there are more tourists April to October, but the tourists are here all year round. I've seen packed Smithsonian museums in February and November, and parking in the vicinity of the National Zoo during "Zoo Lights" in December rivals that of any warm Saturday in spring. I don't care if they're local tourists from Virginia or far away tourists from California...they are equally annoying!

Posted by: thetan | April 12, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

If Metro can deal with these type of events so well, why can't they handle the things that happen more frequently, even every day (train and track breakdowns, station closures, etc,)?

Posted by: ceebee2 | April 12, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

I have always been enormously proud that our hometown hosts people from all over the world, sometimes on really, really important policy matters like avoiding nuclear terrorism, sometimes for major ceremonies like the inauguration, but also for tourism, the best no-cost museums on the planet, our beautiful monuments, and more.

There are so many people living in other places in the US and elsewhere in the world that would give an awful lot just to be here where it is all happening. We who are lucky enough to be here should grin and bear it during the occasional inconvenience. Thankfully real estate prices are inching up again and if you don't like living here there is always a buyer willing to pay you to leave.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | April 12, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

It's all theatre.

"if you don't like living here there is always a buyer willing to pay you to leave"

Unless you rent, of course.

Posted by: fireball72 | April 12, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

It's all theatre.

"if you don't like living here there is always a buyer willing to pay you to leave"

Unless you rent, of course.

Posted by: fireball72 | April 12, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

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