Crowd Control: Movers and Shakers Have Hard Time Moving, Shaking

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The celebratory locust swarm descends upon the capital.
The celebratory locust swarm descends upon the capital. Photo: Getty Images

You know how sometimes you’re in a big hurry and you get to your subway only to discover that your journey to Union Square requires, like, four transfers? Now take that logistical nightmare, multiply it by ten, and add being lost 90 percent of the time — then you'll have some idea of what it’s like to maneuver around Washington, D.C., right now.

The troubles started early Saturday, when pretty much every train that day got stuck behind the inaugural Whistle Stop Train Tour going from Philadelphia to the capital. Our delay was three hours; by the time Politico.com’s Ben Smith got his train that afternoon, he said, “Penn Station looked like a refugee camp.”

In D.C. proper, Army Humvees block most of the streets downtown, causing huge traffic jams of confused drivers. Driving a block might take fifteen minutes. The Metro is overflowing, and cabs, when you can find them, get you only within a ten-block radius of your destination. (At a brunch hosted by the Daily Beast and Morning Joe on Sunday, Mika Brzezinski joked, “Even David Axelrod — David Axelrod! — had to walk two long blocks to get here.”)

Richard Holbrooke brushed off the delays. “This is so special,” he said. “There’s a different energy here. We came down on the Acela yesterday, got caught behind the president-elect’s train, so we were two hours late. The point is, nobody complained. They felt like, ‘Well, we’re caught behind the president-elect’s train! We’re part of history!’ There were people along the tracks waving, people in our car were waving back. It was fantastic.” And Gayle King had perspective: “I know security is really tight, but you can’t even complain about it,” she said at brunch on Sunday morning. “What’s so great is that all the guys, the men and women working the security detail, I think almost anticipate that you’ll be a little cranky, so they are exceptionally nice. It’s like they took a happy pill or something.”