Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Statue at National Airport

It took a while, but I'm finally able to stop spluttering in anger and write about this article from yesterday's Washington Times: Reagan Statue Coming to Namesake Airport.

According to the article, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation has signed an agreement with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to erect a bronze statue of the 40th president in front of the airport's Terminal A. The statue is estimated to cost $445,000, of which the airport authority will pay $80,000.

Riddle me this, Batman: what can you buy for the airport for $445,000 that would be a little more useful than a statue of Ronald Reagan...who, just to shove the stick a little deeper into the eye, was the president who fired all the nation's air traffic controllers in 1981?

Washington National Airport was renamed Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in 1998 as part of the deification of the former president, whose name is also attached to the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in downtown Washington, and to the Ronald Wilson Reagan Memorial Highway (Virginia State Route 234 in Prince William County, dedicated to Reagan in 2005), among other things. You can find a more-or-less complete list of all the things around the country named for Ronald Reagan here.

But back to the statue.

Ronald Reagan, whether or not you think he was a great president (and I think history will be less kind to him than those who today worship at his festooned altar), was a major figure in late 20th century America. But enough, already! Spending nearly half a million dollars on a statue of the man ... and getting the airport to pay some $80,000 for it, is ludicrous. That money could buy a lot of repairs and improvements to the airport facilities and the adjoining Metrorail station. Those of you who live here and have long memories will remember that Republican members of Congress forced the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (which operates our increasingly decrepit and sadly-underfunded Metro system) to pay about $400,000 to rename the National Airport Metro station to include President Reagan's name. Are we going to accept spending $465,000 on a statue when there are so many better things on which to spend it?

Come on, people. If Ronald Reagan was such a "regular guy," and was the opponent of needless spending and big government that his supporters remember, he would probably be one of the first to object to spending this amount of money on a pigeon perch.

It would, however, give the pigeons a place to register their opinion on the topic.

No statue of President Reagan at National Airport. Use the money for better things.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Bandit said...

We landed at Reagan the last time we were in D. C. (about 3 years ago) I remember it being older (unmodern) and maybe needing a facelift.

This is beside your point, but we stayed at a hotel very close to the Pentagon. The top level had a restaurant with a revolving floor. It had a great view of the Pentagon as it came around. To get on the subway we had to go to the lower level of a shopping mall. I'm sure you know where I am talking about.

Mike said...

Reagan was the first of the 'spend then spend some more' republicans. It's fitting that they are wasting so much money on a statue of him.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

It doesn't seem the right place to put the statue.

Bilbo said...

Bandit - I know exactly where you're talking about: the Pentagon City mall and the Doubletree Hotel. The Pentagon looks a lot better from the outside.

Mike - there's a great article in the current issue of Newsweek about the difference between the "real" Reagan and the Reagan that today's Republicans worship. Very interesting study in Republican revisionist history.

Jean-Luc - you are so very right.

Anonymous said...

I refuse to call that airport anything but "National Airport" out of protest. My father was an air traffic controller.

Anonymous said...

I only have one comment. The DC Metro is not underfunded--it is overspent. Ten years ago assistant station managers (and nobody can figure out exactly what they do) were paid $90k annually. One third of all Metro employees are managers. That's why the air conditioners are always broken, etc.

Eminence Grise