In Defense of D.C.

The president's "Home to the Heartland" tour enthusiastically proclaims the greatness of America and its fundamental values. Alas, listening to Mr. Bush and attendant Cabinet members, one could assume that those virtues can only be discovered between the coasts.

Bush's tour to date (the month spent at his Crawford, Texas, ranch, which included various trips to Colorado, New Mexico, and Wisconsin) seems geared to a politically tried and true notion - emphasizing that the leader of the world's most powerful country is simply one of the people.

But by playing to the unfortunate and all-too-common perception that Washington is filled with self-serving politicians and self-important bureaucrats, Bush runs a liability.

While going out of his way to distinguish his origins from the city on the Potomac may be par for the political course, isn't it time to consider that the old anti-Washington line runs the risk of further ingraining negative stereotypes of the central government, etching them even deeper into American attitudes?

After all, Bush came to office promising to "change the tone" and make Washington a better place through bipartisanship and cooperation.

He has got a lot of work to do on important legislation, much of it a version of his proposals. He can only take this anti-Washington stuff so far before he erodes his ability to negotiate deals with Congress, especially Senate Democrats. Sensible Americans know that Washington is not as dastardly as this president - and some past ones - portray it. They can spot a ploy.

Unlike any other US city, Washington evokes and represents the nation as a whole. The capital is a place of vital national and international importance, chock-full of thoughtful individuals (among the highest number of college grads in the US) serving their country.

It may be politically convenient to leave that fact out of the heartland- tour rhetoric; it would be more constructive to include it.

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