If President-elect Barack Obama really wants to put a dent in that federal deficit, he might consider coming up with a license deal for his own image. The streets of this city, where the population is 56% African-American, are taking on the feel of London before a royal wedding.
Sidewalk stands that normally sell umbrellas and souvenirs are now hawking all kinds of Obama-themed merchandise: hats, t-shirts, posters. The same is true of store windows all over downtown. Congressional offices report being swamped by requests for tickets to the inauguration. (And the local hotels are offering packages that can top $200,000 for a four-night stay, a chauffeur-driven Maserati and daily spa treatments.) Meanwhile, the locals are suddenly hearing from friends and relatives everywhere. As the Post reported this weekend:
In Mitchellville, Elease Houston’s nephew called from Atlanta. In Georgetown, Kyle Gibson received an e-mail from a buddy looking for a bunk. And in Northwest Washington, Astrid Trinh fielded calls from loved ones in four different European countries.
“My house has turned into a bed-and-breakfast for the inauguration,” said Trinh, 46, an administrative legal assistant at a Virginia law firm. “I’ve got people coming from Belgium, France, Switzerland and Spain. I think there will be about 15. . . . I told people they could come and I’ll figure out the beds later.”
Just a reminder, if you are headed our way: Dress warmly. The national mall can be pretty cold in January.