Friday, January 23, 2009

License to Vote?

Presidential limousines under Presidents Obama (left) (AP) and Bush (right) (Getty Images)

Although many federal vehicles have U.S. Government plates, the presidential limousine has historically had a D.C. license plate. In the final months of the Clinton presidency, the president installed D.C.'s then-new "Taxation Without Representation" plates. A few months later, President Bush had them removed. Instead, President Bush kept DC plates on the limo, but opted to not include the slogan (a choice offered by the DMV - Councilmember Graham recently proposed requiring the motto on all DC plates rather than offering

Many had high hopes that President Obama would place the Taxation Without Representation plates on the new presidential limo. The Hill reported that DC Vote and Shadow Senator Paul Strauss expected the move. All 13 DC Councilmembers sent a letter to the president elect asking him to do so. Mayor Fenty, noted for his close ties to the new president, along with Congresswoman Norton, opted not to impose on the new president, calling the license plate just a "symbol." Funny, that never stopped DC's almost voting delegate from pushing DC postage stamps, postmarks, quarters, a spot in statuary hall, etc., etc., but I digress.

Well, the big day came. I watched the limo drive by in the parade. Surprise! The new presidential limousine does not have the Taxation Without Representation tags. In fact, for the first time in memory, the mobile fortress does not have DC tags at all. Welcome the new, blue USA 1 plates.

What does this mean for DC's quest for voting rights? Probably nothing. But President Obama certainly chose not to make a statement on this issue on his first day in office. I hope he'll consider DC tags in the future as a resident of our great city.

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