Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

Related Post Roulette

68 Responses

  1. Burt Likko says:

    Is refusing to call Reagan National Reagan National still a thing? Reagan is a historical figure at this point, one who did not depart office in any particular disgrace and with only the usual sorts of disgracefulnesses on the way out.

    Perhaps more to the point, Republicans don’t get all snippy about Kennedy International. And when the airport in Little Rock gets renamed after Bill Clinton, there might be some grumbling but it certainly seems appropriate.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko says:


      Reagan is a lot more recent history than Kennedy especially because he still seems to have a defied status in the Republican Party and it seems like there are some or many Republicans who would rename everything after St. Ronnie.

      After all, there was a failed effort to rename Mt. Diablo into Mt. Reagan.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Cape Kennedy did get renamed back to Cape Canaveral during the Nixon administration.

      But I’d rather go to Reagan Airport than one named after John Foster Dulles.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:


      FWIW, I very rarely hear anyone call Kennedy Kennedy. They all call it JFK. And it is one of those things where most people don’t associate JFK with JFK. If you know what I meant.

      Language is funny that way. Context matters immensely. I call it JFK. But I never think of the President. I always think of the airport that is impossible to get to.

      Just like Jolly Ranchers, which I recently took the time to think about. I never think of a happy cattle wrangler. I just think of the candy. Words are weird.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Kazzy says:

        “And it is one of those things where most people don’t associate JFK with JFK. If you know what I meant.”

        I don’t. Who doesn’t know JFK the initials is for JFK the president?Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        I don’t think people, if pressed, would name anyone other than the President. What I mean is that if you say to someone, “I gotta go pick up my wife at JFK,” no one gets a mental image of the President. They simply think of the airport. It is essentially a brand. When someone says Kleenex, you don’t think of the company; you think of a tissue.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Kazzy says:

        Then I’m unsure how this speaks against Burt’s point? When I fly into Reagan National, I don’t think about the guy any more than I do when I fly into JFK.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

        I’m sure some people think it was named after that other great (and perhaps soon to be martyred) American, James Fran Ko.Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to Kazzy says:

        …and Logan is contemplating change to Rogen.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:


        It addresses the idiocy that people are refusing to call it Reagan because of Saint Ronnie. Are there people who do that? Undoubtedly. Are they accomplishing much of anything? I contend they are most certainly not.

        If someone says, “Can you give me a ride to Reagan?” I think “Thank god they didn’t ask for a ride to Dulles.”
        If someone says, “Can you give me a ride to National?” I think “Thank god they didn’t ask for a ride to Dulles.”

        If someone thinks they are accomplishing something by calling it National instead of Reagan, they are sorely mistaken. Though I’m sure MOST people who call it National do it out of habit rather than some political posturing (which further dilutes the noneffect of those doing it for the latter purpose).Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Kennedy got a bunch of national stuff named after him because he got his head blown off while president of the United States. It’s not a good comparison to Reagan

      Also, his dad was kind of a big deal on Wall Street, which is in NYC, so that’s part of the reason he got a New York airport named after him. And yeah, Clinton will have the Little Rock airport named after him. So maybe it would be appropriate for Reagan to have LAX or the Chicago Rockford International Airport named after him.

      Naming the national capital’s main airport after him (all presidents do the majority of their service in Washington) is clearly a different kind of statement from those examples. Not calling it that once that’s it’s name is getting a little over-hung-up on it, I would agree, but I can see why people wouldn’t want to.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Michael Drew says:

        “Kennedy got a bunch of national stuff named after him because he got his head blown off while president of the United States. It’s not a good comparison to Reagan”

        So, the difference between naming something after a president or not naming it after a president comes down to the accuracy of an assassin’s kill shot?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew says:

        It’s not like Hinkley didn’t try to get an airport named after Reagan!Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Michael Drew says:

        I always forget about the little known and rarely used Jody Foster Exclusion.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Michael Drew says:

        I used to live a few miles from Travis Bickle AFB.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        @jaybird That’s true!

        @tod-kelly Yes, the difference between presidents we name stuff-we-name-after-presidents-because-they-were-assassinated after and presidents we don’t name stuff-we-name-after-presidents-because-they-were-assassinated after is that they were assassinated.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Examples include Mt. McKinley and the lasagna-swilling cat.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        This book about the future meat&cheese-pasta-cat’s namesake’s assassination is an absolute thriller, and the biographical sketches of him in this book are wonderfully entertaining. He was a fascinating person.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Michael Drew says:

        He was the only feline cartoon character ever to discover a proof of the Pythagorean Theorem.Report

      • Just finished Destiny of the Republic last week. Really a powerful piece of history writing; I can’t recommended it highly enough.Report

      • It seems worth mentioning that at the time it was named after Reagan, DCA was not the region’s main airport.Report

      • ScarletNumbers in reply to Michael Drew says:

        This is an excellent point. Reagan had ZERO connection to Washington beyond what any other president had. It seems inappropriate to name DCA after him, or any president for that matter.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Bobby Kennedy has a stadium named after him while possessing similarly slim connections to DC and major American sports (and soccer)Report

      • @mark-thompson

        That’s good context, and in fact I was speaking from assumption not knowledge in even saying it’s the main airport for the area now. But I feel like the connection-to-the-figure’s-life-outside-of-federal-political-service-in-Washington point that @scarletnumbers highlights still stands.

        And to be clear about it, I agree with him that it would be… I wouldn’t say inappropriate, but kind of an obnoxious gesture to name major facilities (office buildings are routinely named for presidents; it seems like a major airport is something different, in part because everyone coming into and out of the city then talks about it, rather than just however many people have business at a given office building) in the capital after presidents, precisely because the custom is to name stuff after them where they’re from, and naming stuff after them relatively recently after they leave office (outside of extraordinary circumstances… like being killed in office) just raises all the debates about their merits as figures of non-partisan national veneration. Truly historical figures of general esteem become fairly clearly that (nor not) over time, unless the record is just overwhelming (repelling an invasion that threatened the country at an existential level, or some such) – so give it the time it needs to become clear. Less than twenty years from leaving office isn’t remotely that kind of time.

        Also, this is not by any means something I would have put past the Democrats at some point in the future; it just happened not to have been done to by them this time. And Republicans would kvetch about naming a Washington airport after Obama in 2026, and I wouldn’t blame them.

        All that said, Bill Clinton signed the legislation, so you might think that would get Democrats to just let it go… except probably not, given what Clinton represents to a lot of people on the left. I would say that Clinton was probably trying to change the partisan dynamic around this kind of thing, hoping for reciprocation (obviously self-interestedly), and I would give him credit for the attempt. In hindsight that hope looks like a forlorn one, but fair enough.

        But more generally, I think the problem with naming major facilities like airports after president on “neutral” territory like the capital (as opposed to in “home turf” areas associated with the individuals’ lives outside of federal service) before its really clear that the legacy justifies it in an extraordinary way is really bigger than just simple partisanship. It unnecessarily contributes to/is abased int the cult of the presidency (not something I have as bog a problem with as some, but it just seems like there’s no other justification for the practice at all to me), lowers the bar for what we expect of presidents to be thought of as historically significant and worthy, and re-raises the controversies (partisan or otherwise) of his time in office before they have really been processed by the country and by history.

        Not that nothing in the capital should be named after presidents before it’s clear they’re truly historical figures of general national esteem, but it seems that it should be things that are numerous enough that a significant percentage of all the presidents could have their names on one of them. Like office buildings and streets.Report

      • @kolohe

        I was always a bit more dubious about RFK myself; I always kind of wondered exactly what the story was with that naming. To me, though, when someone actually does get assassinated, all bets are off as to how you may be remembered. And I think that the argument that memorials are largely given for the benefit of the surviving family made JFK’s death figure in the degree of memorialization of RFK, as one family really did lose a lot as a result of their sons’ having chosen to live high-profile lives as public servants. Also, I would say, though there are indeed about as many major sports stadiums as airports in any given major metropolis, that there is a difference in the degree of esteem that their being named for a person conveys. It’s a bit less vital and serious a facility for a city’s life (only a bit, but a bit).

        Reading up on the renaming of Washington National Airpot, I see it wasn’t even a memorial for Reagan; he was alive (though not well) when it was named for him. I imagine the degree of his suffering from Alzheimer’s played into the decision, and I’m sympathetic to that; it seems like a humane thing for Clinton to have agreed to, to me.Report

      • ScarletNumbers in reply to Michael Drew says:


        1) RFK was assassinated, which causes some of the regular rules to go out the window.

        2) Naming the stadium after him was a tweak of George Preston Marshall, who owned the Redskins. The Redskins were the last NFL to integrate, and only did so after being forced by RFK, who was AG at the time.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Reagan is subject to a lot more hero worship among Republicans than Kennedy is among Democrats these days. As part of the international conservative duo of the 1980s, the other being Thatcher, Reagan is also much more decisive as a figure. Many liberals still see Reagan as symbolizing the real end of the New Deal/Great Society state even though the process started under Carter.Report

    • Mo in reply to Burt Likko says:

      I don’t call the Triboro Bridge the RFK Bridge and it has nothing to do with my opinion of RFK.Report

    • Kimmi in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Yes. Refusing to call it Reagan National is still a thing.
      Of course, so is ordering a raktajino…

      There are things people do to seem “cool and in the know.”Report

    • Dan Miller in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Part of the problem is that most major cities get to name their own airports, but DC is once again dominated by Congress in this regard. If Oklahoma City chose to name their airport after Reagan, I’d use the name without blinking, but to have it forced upon the city unwillingly sticks in my craw.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Dan Miller says:

        Yeah, it’s that, plus the air traffic controller thing.
        Of course, DC is just cranky enough to put “Taxation without Representation” on their license plates.
        And then demand an act of Congress to clean up the streets when it snows [literally in their business plan… possibly due to Marion Barry.]Report

  2. Kolohe says:

    DCA has location & Metro access and BWI has Southwest before anyone. Dulles has those lounges and a ‘temporary’ set of concourses still in use today that were built before St. Ronnie had his most famous tax reform package approved.

    That’s why Dulles is the red-headed stepchild of DMV airports. And will get worse if United just moves all its hub activity to EWR with the Continental mergerReport

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Kolohe says:

      I always fly out of Reagan, because once I reserved a flight out of Dulles, and when they asked if I wanted a window or aisle seat and I said I didn’t care, the guy screamed that neutralism is immoral and hung up on me.Report

  3. Kazzy says:

    I lived in Bethesda/Rockville for two years. And visited Zazzy while she lived there for another two years (always traveled via car, bus, or train, but occasionally had to get her to an airport). I also once flew into DCA from Boston years before.

    Dulles is a relatively easy drive but… it’s a drive. You can take public transportation to BWI and DCA. Can’t… or at least couldn’t… do that with Dulles. And therein lies the rub. DCA is essentially IN the District. You can take the Metro there. That’s *huge* for those of us inside the Beltway (technically, I was outside the Beltway but I could hear it from my apartment so I claim joint citizenship).

    Wiki tells me National became Reagan in ’98. Most of my friends down there were lifetime locals, so they mostly called it National. I used Reagan and National interchangeably. No one ever gave grief. Along similar lines, I’m curious how the rebranding of the Tri-borough Bridge to the RFK Bridge in NYC is going to be accepted. It happened a few years ago but it always takes time for people to even realize. I still don’t know anyone who calls the West Side Highway anything other than that… even though it is officially the Henry Hudson north of 72nd and Joe Dimaggio south (people do typically call it the Henry Hudson once you cross into the Bronx). So it is possible that the ‘refusal’ to call it Reagan has less to do with politics and more to do with laziness.

    Also, Dulles has those awful shuttles that look like those giant walker things out of Star Wars. Though I could see Will putting that in the ‘plus’ column. :-pReport

    • Michael Cain in reply to Kazzy says:

      I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in Denver in 2016 when light rail service to the airport starts. The airport station will be covered and attached directly to the main terminal. That same year light rail lines in additional suburbs open up.Report

  4. Hoosegow Flask says:

    I was surprised when they reopened Reagan National after 9/11. I thought it would have been the victim of increased security considerations.

    I don’t mind calling it “Reagan National”, even if generally annoyed by the Reaganification of federal properties. BWI, however, will always be BWI to me and not the “Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport”.Report

  5. j r says:

    Interesting. I often hear that Reagan has a deified status among conservatives, but the only people that I have ever seen refer to “St. Ronnie” are progressives using the term sarcastically. There is certainly some level of elevating Reagan among movement conservatives, but what percentage of the population are movement conservatives?

    My grandmother had a picture of JFK hanging up in her home until the day that she died. I have yet to visit a home with a picture of Reagan hanging; although, maybe I just don’t travel in the right circles.

    On the point of the airport, I lived in DC for seven years and either referred to the airport as DCA or Reagan National or just National. And I can’t say that I ever gave it any real thought. Methinks the WaPo piece is largely an exercise in the kind of journalistic trend spotting that like to spot trends of questionable provenance.Report

    • j r in reply to j r says:

      Also, the breakdown for me was always DCA for domestic flights and Dulles for international. The only time that I violated that rule was a flight from DCA to LAX.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to j r says:

      The fact that the GOP tried to name everything in the country after Reagan (including putting him on the dime until Nancy said he wouldn’t have wanted to replace FDR) is obviously a figment of the fevered liberal imagination.Report

      • j r in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        The fact that the GOP tried to name everything in the country after Reagan…

        …obviously a figment of the fevered liberal imagination.

        I will assume that first sentence is a purposeful exercise in hyperbole, which makes the last sentence quite odd, because yes, that is a figment of your imagination. That is what makes it hyperbole. Not sure how to respond other than to point out the contradiction and move on.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Forgotten that already? It was only ten years ago .Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        you forgot the constitutional amendment!
        In all fairness, so did Ronnie….
        That might have been why they canceled the vote, in fact…

        [Yes, I’m making jokes about people with Alzheimers being forgetful.
        Don’t bitch, or i’ll find worse things to joke about.]Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Good Lord, it was even worse than I’d remembered:

        Grover Norquist, president of the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project and an influential conservative activist, said he is still urging the four to consider putting Reagan on half the dimes minted every year.
        Norquist indicated that possibility could be used for leverage should Congressional Democrats balk at the Reagan ten. “Congressional Democrats have threatened to filibuster any Reagan ten-dollar bill legislation,” Norquist said. If they do, Norquist said conservatives might argue again for the Reagan dime, which would be a direct assault on FDR, an icon of the Democratic party.

      • j r in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Forgotten that already? It was only ten years ago .

        Forgotten is not the right word. I spent most of 2004 deployed in the Khost province of Afghanistan, so I wasn’t really keeping up on my partisan political news.

        Anyway, according to your link, some Republican congressman and Grover Norquist tried to get Reagan on the dime. And separately I see that Norquist heads some group that tried to get a significant Reagan memorial in every state. That sounds a lot more like my:

        There is certainly some level of elevating Reagan among movement conservatives…

        than your:

        …the GOP tried to name everything in the country after Reagan…

        Although maybe I just need some sort of Schilling app that translates sarcastic pot shots into measured English.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Mike Schilling says:


        That’s a building I’ll never forget — along with the movement of the subway exit.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        So, even when given a precise cite, no retraction of “figment of your imagination”? I wish I were disappointed.Report

      • j r in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        You said this:

        The fact that the GOP tried to name everything in the country after Reagan…

        Nowhere in your citation is such a claim supported, so yes, it is a figment of your imagination.

        Unless, like I said, I am just supposed to know to treat everything you say with some sort of sarcasm conversion factor.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        What you’d said was

        which makes the last sentence quite odd, because yes, that is a figment of your imagination.

        That is, the sentence that the CNN cite corroborates in full, even unto Mrs. Reagan’s disapproval of the idea. But, whatever, I’m past expecting anything more.Report

  6. Jim Heffman says:

    But my goodness, the architecture at Dulles is fascinating. It is so utterly what we all thought the future was going to look like–huge exposed support structures, gigantic glass-fronted hallways, exteriors angled like bunkers built to resist nuclear attack, and everything is goddamn concrete. You could shoot a Blade Runner sequel there without even having to dress up the place!Report

  7. Marchmaine says:

    I fly out of both, but greatly prefer Dulles on account of the car. Dulles is much better as a destination airport compared Regan… easier to get to, easier to park, easier to navigate.

    That said, Dulles suffers from a single security choke point – at times it seems like all 20M annual fliers are ahead of you when you are late – Regan by comparison has distributed security and is usually a breeze. Proof for all time the benefits of decentralization.

    Some of you need to update your Dulles prejudices… the mobile lounges are gone (except for gate D… why do they hate gate D?), and the silver line will connect Dulles to the Metro in 2018 (or thereabouts).

    I’m looking forward to the Metro for the opposite reason… I can’t use the metro ever since they closed to outdoor parking at Vienna; but once the Silver line reaches Dulles, there will be parking and an internal infrastructure at Dulles to use the Silver to DC. Another example where Busses theoretically work, but in practice don’t really.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Marchmaine says:

      For a billion plus dollar project, the Airtrain is somewhat suboptimal in routing and embarking/disembarking locations. (esp compared to say, Hartsfield, which did the lounge to train conversion at least 20 years ago). And like you said, D is still dependent on the old school lounges.

      The Silver Line is still going to be over an hour to the core, because of no express trains. (though somewhat shorter to Tysons, which will be the main traffic). And the metro doesn’t help anyone who lives south of 50 on the arc that extends to Dumphries and the river.

      In any case, its the airlines that have reduced their own capacity at Dulles, while the other two airports are bursting at the seams.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Kolohe says:

        Sorry, Aerotrain, not Airtrain.Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to Kolohe says:

        I haven’t noticed any sub-optimal issues with Dulles Airtrain, unless by sub-optimal you mean ascending from Khazad-dum-like depths? I hate Hartsfield for the sole reason that while the train works fine, the airport has seen fit never to put connecting flights from the same carrier in the same terminal. ever. in ever.

        I don’t commute, so I don’t really care about the silver line as a tool for commuters… I just want a way to ditch my car when I go into the city. It takes me 45-min from Vienna anyway (if I could still use it), so not a big deal.Report

  8. Mike Dwyer says:

    I fly through BWI regularly, but have never actually flown in or out of there so the experience is different. With that said, it’s one of my favorite airports. Very easy to get around and a decent food selection. Not much more I can ask for in a layover spot.Report

  9. Kolohe says:

    “. From a steep rise in noise complaints from nearby Arlington County residents”

    page 24 (PDF) is relevant and somewhat amusing.

    But this is another case where the airport pre-dates nearly all the nearby residential construction. And the stuff that’s been built (and re-built) in Crystal City is only feasible because airplanes make a lot less noise than they did in the 80s.Report