March 17, 2013

Regarding the March 14 editorial “Reopen the White House doors”:

Thanks to The Post for pointing out the needless drama of closing the White House tours. The tours were briefly canceled during the first sequestration of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings in 1986. As a White House staff assistant to Budget Director Jim Miller, I was present when Mr. Miller’s sequestration czar ordered the White House tours to be stopped.

Within an hour, however, the czar returned from the East Wing singing a much different song. Apparently, first lady Nancy Reagan had pointed out that closing the White House reflected badly on the presidency in general and on President Ronald Reagan in particular. More important, the Reagans signaled to their staff that if they had to personally hand out flashlights and give the tours themselves, the tours would continue despite the “crisis” of sequestration.

John Paty, Washington

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