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John Cloud’s cover
article deploring President Clinton’s inattention to the plight of Washingtonians (“The Most Invisible Man in D.C.,” 10/4) missed the most glaring evidences of his indifference. I refer to his acquiescence to the Secret Service when they closed Pennsylvania Avenue and E Street beside the White House over a year ago, and his failure to order them reopened for the benefit of the people (read: voters).
Reopening our main street would be a very democratic thing for the First Democrat to do. Also, a very Jeffersonian action, because it was Thomas Jefferson who ordered Pennsylvania Avenue cut through the former President’s Park to prevent an isolated executive mansion from looking like a royal palace in the new republic. You will recall that Clinton launched his presidential term from Monticello, the home of his hero.
Reopening those streets would get President Clinton a lot of votes without his having to get into the controversy over the inept local government. If he ordered them reopened he would be loved by all of those who have lost the ease of circulation around downtown, those who have lost the patriotic thrill of driving by the White House in their daily rounds, the tourists who prefer to see the president’s home from a sightseeing vehicle, and the business community, whose accessibility has been restricted. And this would get Clinton votes nationwide, because Americans look upon the avenue as their Main Street, too.
Many other and better ways to protect the president have been publicized. All of those barricades and “Checkpoint Charlies” around the White House give our country a bad image.
Program Chairman and Past President
of the Association of the Oldest
Inhabitants of the District ofColumbia