Friday, October 30, 2009

Popular first family gives Washington a new vibe visitors can feel

A year has passed since the history-making election that proclaimed Barack Obama the 44th president of the United States, and national polls suggest that for many Americans the "honeymoon" is over. In Washington, however, each political bump this new administration suffers seems only to strengthen the city's love affair with the first family.

When I spent a few days there recently, Washington still felt fully in thrall to Obamania. Indeed, those few people I encountered who could recall ancient history - meaning, the previous administration - were quick to describe what a pall George W. Bush cast over the nation's capital. Besides frequently bragging about how his tax policies were "starving the beast," (that beast, of course, being Washington), President Bush was famously uninterested in the city's cultural and culinary attractions. His most memorable dining experience in the capital, one wag told me, was the pretzel that nearly caused him to choke to death.

"President Bush was always dissing Washington, but Barack Obama doesn't," said Peggy Clifton, a researcher at the Library of Congress. "So, most people who live and work here are much happier now. We feel like there's finally someone in the White House who respects what this town actually does - which is govern."

Visitors will see that glowing pride reflected in the city's swank new restaurants, ritzy new hotels and spruced up landmarks.

Read the full story here.

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