We have our house back

We have our house back

: The White House is no longer under siege. The barriers are down. The street is open.

I’m not talking politics. I’m talking about the building.

I went running t his morning in D.C. from Dupont Circle down to the White House and was delighted to see the construction and barriers in front of the White House suddenly gone. Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the black fence is closed to traffic but open to us, turned into a broad promenade with lamps, a beautiful setting, and a good view of all the TV reporters using the White House as their backdrop.

The last time I walked this way, you couldn’t get anywhere near the White House. It felt as if this, too, had been stolen from us by the terrorists.

But now it’s open again. God knows what security measures lie underneath these broad stones (trap doors?); at least it’s invisible. So it almost appears as if Washington is finding its normal.

Add to that the lowering of security levels in New York, New Jersey, and Washington and it feels good.

I can hear the “comment” links being clicked now by those who would say this was all a right-wing conspiracy, if not a vast one: They left the barriers and alerts up, this theory says, until the election to keep us scared into voting for their side and now they’re down. But I’m not a conspiracy theorist. If we were that good at organizing things we’d have organized Iraq better or we could at least organize American elections better. Oh, that’s right, those are covered by conspiracy theories, too.

Nevermind. It was great to see the road to the White House opened up again.

  • editor

    No. The barriers and so forth would have come down no matter who got into office; the point is that it most certainly could have been done earlier, and instead was left up until after the election so that we can all now connect the lowering of the barriers (along with the alert level) to the fact that we made a Good Decision in electing Bush. Positive reinforcement, you know. Works best on imbeciles and small children.
    (Reminds me of how the hostages were released in time to coincide with Reagan’s inaugural, so we can forever and for all time thank him personally for having the Godlike power to release those poor people.)
    Now, if I believed in organized conspiracy theories I would posit that Bush had timed Arafat’s death for the post-election, too, to again provide positive reinforcement, but I don’t believe in organized conspiracy theories.
    That said, it’s about frickin’ time the barriers went down already.

  • steve

    Add to that the lowering of security levels in New York, New Jersey, and Washington and it feels good.
    Some conspiracy theorists deny reality rather than propogate fictions.
    John Ashcroft would be mighty proud of you. P.T. Barnum, he’d be proud, too.

  • John

    No. The barriers and so forth would have come down no matter who got into office; the point is that it most certainly could have been done earlier, and instead was left up until after the election so that we can all now connect the lowering of the barriers (along with the alert level) to the fact that we made a Good Decision in electing Bush. Positive reinforcement, you know. Works best on imbeciles and small children.
    Hmm. Interesting thought. And, if true, was an interesting gamble. Wouldn’t the barriers coming down after a Kerry election have provided positive reinforcement also, except for the Good Decision of not electing Bush? Unless of course you’re trying to convince me that the election was rigged (and therefore no gamble) – which, btw would work better on imbeciles and small children.
    Me? I think a lot of people got (understandably) overhyped on the possibility of an election-week attack, and they’ve finally realized it ain’t happening.

  • Jesse

    … and OBL appears a few days before the election to remind us that we’re not safe… well played Mr. Rove, well played…

  • http://hubris.typepad.com Hubris

    Several people were throwing me dirty looks the week before the election. Now they have stopped. Coincidence? I think not.

  • http://www.command-post.org Alan

    Yes, and now if a free man in this free society could only walk freely into the Capitol building …
    But no: those doors remain closed to all who do not have a reservation.
    And as long as they are, I’ll feel the terrorists have won a small but symbolic battle.

  • http://finewhyfine.typepad.com Rob A.

    Just for the record:

    Ad-hoc security barriers first appeared on Pennsylvania Avenue after security concerns forced its closure in the wake of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, the number of barriers cluttering the historic Avenue soon proved to be overwhelming.

  • editor

    John asked:
    Wouldn’t the barriers coming down after a Kerry election have provided positive reinforcement also, except for the Good Decision of not electing Bush?
    Yep. What I meant by the fact that they would have come down no matter who took office is that whoever took office would insist, but for different reasons. In Bush’s case, he had the power to take them down pre-election (where Kerry did not) and opted not to, because that would have subverted his “they’re coming to get us so you better elect me instead of the other guy” overarching message.
    See also: Ashcroft leaving, yellow alert lowering, post-election timeline of.

  • http://www.penguinsix.com/ Andrew Leyden

    Don’t kid your self, the White House is still an armed camp.
    Pennsylvania Avenue was a ROAD not a sidewalk. Don’t get all excited that people can walk there–things will be better when cars can drive again. And how about E Street on the other side? Are there vehicles there yet? And the parking lot created by Clinton that used to be a road?

  • Fred

    I react on two levels: if this truly is an indication of increased safety and lessened threat, that would be fantastic.
    What possible basis do we have to believe that?
    If it is just another indication of Bush/Rove manipulation and attempted mind control, it dramatizes the extent to which they will go.
    And we have PLENTY of basis to believe THAT.

  • http://lonewacko.com The Lonewacko Blog

    From this: “We want people to think ‘terrorism’ for the last four days,” said a Bush-Cheney campaign official. “And anything that raises the issue in people’s minds is good for us.” A senior GOP strategist added, “anything that makes people nervous about their personal safety helps Bush.” He called it “a little gift,” saying it helps the President but doesn’t guarantee his reelection.
    And, it worked. Without looking, I believe the last link shows OBL’s tape helped Bush vs. Kerry by 22 vs. 13 points.
    I’ll also gratuitously add that DC – as well as Chicago and Philly – would be much better cities if they weren’t so far from areas that had any sort of noticeable elevation change.

  • http://keatstelescope.blogspot.com gaw3

    Whatever the political considerations, I think two things should be kept in mind:
    Our president and congress are essential, and it is prudent to keep those buildings safe from catastrophic attack. I would tolerate an awful lot of undisclosed locations etc, no matter who exactly is sitting in the White House.
    BUT- it is a powerful symbol, and really great news, for them to pull down the barriers. I like the idea that I’m not living in a country under siege. I can’t wait for the WTC tower to go up.

  • Stevie

    POLL: If the Osama bin Laden video tape had NOT appeare 5 days before election day…
    A) Bush would have won
    B) Kerry would have won
    Please put aside your political opinions and who you WANTED to win, just think it through and post your opinion.

  • rivlax

    This had obviously been in the works for a long, long time. These kinds of changes don’t happen overnight. When Laura Bush gave her little speech about it the other day (it was in all the papers, don’t know how you missed it, Jeff) it was evident that there has been an effort underway to make the White House more accessible, if only visually, while still maintaining good security.

  • guy

    Alan, you will be able to walk into the capitol bldg without a reservation in the near future after the massive underground expansion is complete. It includes visitor facilities (including security) and additional office space. And all it cost was about $350M of our tax payer dollars.

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