DiMillo has lived in Washington for 40 years. He loves that Washington — the District, the physical home of museums and monuments and sports teams, a thriving place. It’s an important distinction.
But some residents and business leaders fear that a government shutdown — and all the noise surrounding it, on 24-hour news shows and even stories like this — can taint the real Washington, too.
Washington fails to pass budget. Washington can’t agree. Washington full of spoiled brats, polls show.
Jim Dinegar, what do you think?
“We are always perceived as a government town,” says Dinegar, president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade. “We’re a laughingstock” — there’s that term again — “and an embarrassment. If you are looking to locate a business here, you are going to think twice. If you are thinking about bringing a 20,000- member convention here, you will think twice. You can’t afford unexpected disruptions. No business can.”
“I am a big believer that when the Redskins win and a panda is born, people hear about Washington, in a good way,” he says. “And when they can’t pass a budget, they hear about Washington, too, in a bad way.”
Tourism could suffer, experts say. “We get hit with some of that bad reputation,” says Barbara Lang, president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce.
People wonder: Will my flight be able to land?
“What is open, what is closed?" frets Dinegar.
Will there be cab drivers? Are the lights even on?
It’s potential mayhem.
On Monday, some visitors said they had to alter their plans. One family from Arizona was squeezing in three museums, 90 minutes at each, just in case everything closed Tuesday.
Excuse us, ma’am. What’s your particular take? As a tourist and an American who follows the political scene?
“I kind of hope it happens,” said Tina Paquette, a 46-year-old financial manager visiting D.C. from West Palm Beach, Fla. “I hope the Republicans stay strong and prove their point.”
“This horrible law took away my doctor and raised the cost of my prescriptions,” she said of Obamacare, a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act.
But is it fair to blame just the Democrats and exonerate the Republicans? “I think they’re both wrong, honestly,” she said.
The poll-takers are discovering that a large majority of people are peeved — that’s the technical term. And they blame gridlock for the nation’s economic woes.
Approval ratings of Congress are in the dumper — down to 10 percent, says one new poll. But it goes beyond just Congress. The entire political culture in Washington is under indictment. A recently released poll from The Washington Post and the Miller Center at the University of Virginia asked about a long list of reasons why the economy isn’t working for people today.