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Obama: Why haven't you called Vincent Gray?

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By Mark Plotkin
Friday, September 24, 2010

All President Obama has to do is pick up the phone. So why hasn't he called the next mayor of Washington, D.C. -- Vince Gray?

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He could start by congratulating Gray and getting to know him, if only for a few minutes. After that, perhaps an invitation to the White House and a chance to go beyond the amenities and talk about the place that is now his home town.

There is plenty to discuss: the District's lack of voting representation in Congress. Budget and legislative autonomy. The selection of local judges. The inability to tax income at its source. The lack of D.C. statues in the Capitol's Statuary Hall.

How about planning a speech to the District about the District? Say, on its future and a new, better relationship that is about more than photo ops.

This president has shown no gratitude to the D.C. residents who overwhelmingly voted for him. Obama carried every D.C. precinct in the 2008 Democratic primary. That November, he won the presidency with an astounding 93 percent of the D.C. vote. Every precinct of our city voted for him again.

Still, Obama goes out of his way to ignore us. By refusing to do the minimum of political courtesies, he insults not only the likely next mayor of Washington but all residents of our nation's capital.

Really, why does Obama make time to call Delaware Rep. Mike Castle and not the D.C. Council chairman? If Obama is sorry Mayor Adrian Fenty lost the Democratic primary, he should call Fenty, too, and commiserate.

What the District is looking for from any president is the human factor. This president acts as though we don't exist. And the presidential indifference and remoteness hurt. Thursday's visit to the Wilson Building by Attorney General Eric Holder is a first by the Obama administration. The president should follow the attorney general's example.

As for now, it should be noted that Gray has gotten two calls from White House staff. That says it all to D.C. Staff it out.

The District deserves more from Barack Obama.

The writer is the political commentator for WTOP Radio.


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