WashPost's John Kelly: Naming Airport for Reagan Like Renaming Atlanta 'Shermanville'

May 21st, 2014 1:05 PM

The Washington Post's John Kelly rarely gets political in his Metro section columns, but when he does, they can be real doozies. So it's not all that surprising that Kelly found it irresistible to attack the late President Ronald Reagan in today's column in which he opposed a new bipartisan proposal by Missouri's U.S. senators Claire McCaskill (D) and Roy Blunt (R) to rename the federal city's iconic Union Station railway terminal as the Harry S. Truman Union Station.

"[T]here's the irony of naming an airport after the guy who broke the air traffic controller's union," Kelly huffed. "It's like renaming Atlanta 'Shermanville,'" he groused, nursing a 16-year-old grudge against Democratic President Clinton and a Republican Congress over a 1998 law which renamed Washington National Airport after the Gipper.

"I still call Reagan National Airport 'National Airport." And why wouldn't I?" Kelly asked at the open of his column, noting that, as president, the Gipper flew in and out of town via what was then Andrews Air Force Base (now Joint Base Andrews). 

Similarly, Kelly carped, Harry S. Truman rarely used Union Station when he was president, often instead going by car "out to the station in Silver Spring [Md.] to wait for [a train] in a less-crowded setting."

Kelly's real gripe? "This is another example of national politicians treating our city as a personal Erector set they can play with as they like."

Of course, Reagan National -- located in Arlington County, Va., not the District -- and Union Station are actually owned by the federal government, although they are leased to and operated by not-for-profit entities. As such, the U.S. Congress perfectly has the right to regulate those federal properties, including passing laws to name or rename them as it sees fit.

Kelly is entitled to his opinion of course, but it's a bit much to grouse about naming two federally-owned Washington area transportation landmarks after popular U.S. presidents, particularly when every year hundreds of thousands of Americans -- and with them their disposable income and tax dollars -- stream through them on their way to visit the nation's capital and its various attractions.