Magazine article The American Prospect

Has Obama's Mere Presence Made D.C. a Cooler Place to Live?

Magazine article The American Prospect

Has Obama's Mere Presence Made D.C. a Cooler Place to Live?

Article excerpt

ANN FRIEDMAN: In the months since the election, I've had countless people ask me if D.C. "feels different" now that Obama is in the White House instead of Bush, if it's cooler now that it's got that Obama magic.

TIM FERNHOLZ: I say the city hasn't changed; people are just starting to notice how nice it can be to live here. Nobody paid attention to D.C. during the last administration, but now that Obama and his flashy companions are in town, outsiders have the incentive to go check out what's been there all along.

ANN: It's true. I've noted a strange phenomenon. My friends--those who live in New York or on the West Coast--are suddenly not averse to visiting. And I have to say, it does feel better not to have everyone ask me, "How's Washington?" in a pitying tone.

TIM: But you don't need that pity, since the answer, of course, is that Washington is great! Well, you know, except for the school system and some other things like that.

ANN: Maybe part of it is psychological. The awful Pan-Asian restaurants aren't being replaced with more delicious eateries. The bars aren't staying open until 4 A.M. The gallery scene isn't growing. But the simple fact that you might run into the Obamas does make D.C. seem better.

TIM: It's not really about the Obamas, though. Their outings are few and far between. (They even flew to New York on a recent Saturday night.) This new attention comes from curmudgeonly outsiders--

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[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

ANN: and curmudgeonly insiders! …

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