The new U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, which opened Tuesday morning, came in at triple the original budget at $621-million, and was years behind schedule. Depite the typical government efficiency, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has reportedly discovered a “silver lining” for his brethren and sisteren in Congress: Tourists won't offend them with their B.O. anymore.
Reid was heard to remark yesterday, "My staff tells me not to say this, but I'm going to say it anyway…”
That was his first mistake.
The snooty Senator continued, "In the summer because of the heat and high humidity, you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol. It may be descriptive but it's true."
I’ve been to Washington in the Summer.
I’ve been to Washington in the Spring.
I’ve been to Washington in the Winter, and I’ve never smelled tourists.
I’ve smelled the fragrance of freedom on the mall and at the Capitol Building. It’s the aroma of sweaty kids, frustrated parents, and street vendors selling steaming hot dogs from carts on wheels.
There’s a tang in the air of the poor and desperate, too.
Of uncollected trash stacked in the streets, stale smoke wafting from un-airconditioned apartments in parts of the city you don’t see on the national news breaks, and dried puke and pee under the bridges where the homeless hang out. That’s the smell of freedom, too—the freedom to fail.
In fact the only real stink that consistently permeates the air in D.C. comes from the pristine offices of the members of congress and the halls of the capitol, generally when there’s legislative work being done behind the scenes… or when some career politician proves in a very obvious way that he’s lost his way—and his perspective—on who is to be serving whom on Capitol Hill.
Harry Reid’s staff was correct in advising him to keep his pie hole shut. Harry Reid was way off base in saying now he doesn’t have to smell the tourists coming into the Capitol. Harry Reid needs to be reminded that that is the fragrance of freedom being exercised, the scent of citizenship on parade.
Harry Reid should re-sniff the aroma in the air, because it could carry the winds of change from a constituency that smells a rat in Washington, masquerading as their chosen representative, who can’t tell the difference between a bunch of smelly tourists and the teaming masses just longing for a glimpse of the artifacts of our shared life, liberty and common pursuits of happiness.