First, let’s give credit to Mayor Muriel Bowser for seeking a meeting with the president-elect. (You might notice, I cannot affix the name to that title.) Not only did she seek the meeting, but that meeting actually did take place on Dec. 6.
There seem to be varying estimates of how much time the president-elect allotted the mayor. I’ve heard 40 minutes, and 30 minutes has also been reported. Forty minutes seems a bit brief and 30 minutes too brief and downright skimpy. Is it too much to ask that the mayor of Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, get a full hour? I don’t think so.
There was the usual pabulum about it being a “get-acquainted session.” And then the equally pedestrian phrase, “a wide-ranging discussion.”
The mayor, in her own words après meeting, said that three subjects were discussed: “statehood, education and transportation.”
Transportation seems mostly to center on Metro funding. That should make Council member Jack Evans extremely happy — he is the very active and very visible Metro board chairman.
As for education, does the president-elect have a commitment to public school education? The appointment of voucher champion Betsy DeVos as secretary of education surely signals otherwise. In addition, there is the present congressionally mandated voucher program which John Boehner stuffed down our throats.
Thankfully, Boehner is no longer in a position of power. He was no friend or supporter of the District of Columbia. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
When it comes to the issue of “D.C. statehood,” the mayor has a very mixed and murky record. She never uttered a word that I can remember when she was a Council member. Then she called for a statehood constitutional convention upon becoming mayor. This raised the visibility of the issue. The “yes” vote on the idea in the general election referendum was a very impressive 79 percent.
Bowser’s action I praise wholeheartedly. This 79-percent “yes” vote makes D.C. statehood acceptable — even fashionable. That’s a giant stride considering that years ago it was deemed a “fringe” issue, supported only by left-wing nuts.
But calling for a statehood convention is not the same as getting statehood. That requires a “yes” vote by both chambers of Congress and the president’s signature.
With Republicans controlling both the House and the Senate and the president-elect calling it a “tough” issue, there is not much room for optimism. Nevertheless, the mayor of D.C. should always ask.
Muriel Bowser, however, has trouble asking. When questioned by me and others, whether or not she asks about or — God forbid — advocates for statehood, she frowns and seems perturbed by the inquiry. Bowser does not seem to realize that asking is a fundamental part of her job as the mayor of this city.
I do know on good authority that Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s “yes” vote, giving D.C. a modicum of democracy (a vote in the House), never came up during the meeting.
Pence was one of 22 Republicans who voted for this, as did Paul Ryan, now Speaker of the House. Did Mayor Bowser inform the president-elect of this juicy gem? No, she didn’t.
Has the mayor asked for a meeting with Pence to discuss his future public support? When I asked her directly about this last week, she refused to respond.
Finally, the last time a Republican took over from a Democratic president (George W. Bush in 2001), the very first thing he did was remove the “Taxation Without Representation” plate that proudly adorns the White House limousines.
Did Bowser ask the president-elect not to do a “Bush” and keep it on? No. She never brought it up. Meetings are fine but something should come out of them. Right now, it was only a meeting.