Local Commentary

Editorial: The President Visits Falls Church

According to News-Press sources, a concerted effort was made by the Obama White House to find a suitable location for the President’s speech on housing and mortgage reform last week right in the City of Falls Church. Only when that search proved fruitless, the President not wanting to disrupt already-scheduled functions in what otherwise may have been good venues, was the move made to set up the gym floor at the James Lee Community Center, less than a quarter-mile from the F.C. city limits, for what turned out to be a very upbeat event.

The point is that this event was by all measures targeted for the good citizens of the City of Falls Church, notwithstanding all the national media coverage it naturally drew. That is why, even though the event was technically located in Fairfax County, it was not Fairfax County elected officials who were given the front row-center VIP seats, but Council members of the City of Falls Church.

In fact, there were no Fairfax officials present, and the audience of 400 was heavily sprinkled with familiar Falls Church A-List faces. Yes, it was the president of the United States coming to visit little old Falls Church!

Keepers of the histories of the Little City note the rare time when an earlier president set foot in the place, back in William Howard Taft’s day. There were brief remarks made on Dr. T. C. Quick’s front steps on July 21, 1912, 100 years ago. Last week’s visit by President Obama was the first by a U.S. president since, and now is added to that lore.

It was fun to watch the giddiness of top Falls Church officials at being provided such intimate access to the President. Being among 400 friends and supporters in folding chairs and risers on a tarp-covered gym floor is pretty cozy, especially with the grinning President sticking around to shake as many hands as he could reach from behind the rail protecting the podium.

To jaded political veterans of the Washington, D.C. wars, like you see among the White House press corps, for example, this may have been routine and boring. But maybe that’s why such people always seem to misread American sentiment. Jaded, they think it is their job to reduce energized reality to a kind of fantasy football calculated with cold poll and ballot numbers, percentages and stock explanations.

For a day, it seemed like Falls Church was just another American hinterland, whose people are as wide-eyed and excited at a glimpse of the President as anyone no matter how far removed from Washington. And that was a very good thing.

From the standpoint of the wise man who says the only one real sin is cynical, selfish indifference and the only real virtue is “a passionate love of life, of yours and everyone else’s,” Falls Church exhibited a lot of virtue for its President last week.