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Wait Until Obama Sees This

by on May 10, 2010

Barack Obama is taking a trip to the future when he comes to Buffalo.  And he won’t even need a TARDIS or similarly nerdy device.  As a laboratory for governmental interference, Buffalo could show the president how progressive ideals don’t bring progress. 

Matt pointed out why this area is a curious yet telling destination for the president.  And, as commenter Brooks put it, “What better place to see how Liberal philosophies come to fruition than Buffalo.”  Obama wants to open the Petri dish lid covering Erie County and spread whatever growth is festering inside.  Unfortunately, it’s unlikely he will pay attention closely enough to see what will happen outside the lab if he keeps experimenting.

Still, we can at least try to get him to traipse through and gawk at some telling rust spots on the area’s hull.  Suggesting a full itinerary serves as a form of bipartisanship.  At the least, he’ll be unable to refer to us as the Bloggers of No.

First, his trip itself should be routed along the Kensington and Scajaquada.  Such an excursion would allow him to ponder how bureaucratic planning led to thruways cutting through the middle of a pleasant neighborhood and the city’s signature park, respectively.

His travel time would also ideally include a white-knuckle roller coaster ride along the useless Skyway.  Once he digs his fingers out of the car seat cushion, he’ll have a chance to ponder federal unresponsiveness to obsolescence.  If it makes him feel better, he can think about frazzled Western New Yorkers who have to drive on the superfluous elevated roadway every day and be especially thankful he didn’t take his jaunt in February.

Also, POTUS ought to save some ride tickets so he can take a slow journey on the Metro Rail.  Luckily, its cars are outfitted with windows, allowing him to look outside during the above-ground trek and see. . . well, not much.  Any initial signs of progress he spots have come a couple decades late.

Ironically, Obama’s expedition here is part of the myopically-named Main Street Tour.  Thanks to a woefully onerous public policy, the Main Street of the municipality he’s visiting often looks like an Omega Man set.  Get home before sundown lest you’re up for fighting mutants.

Looking at Main Street will allow Obama to comprehend just how sparse the commercial presence is in large swaths of the metropolis.  He should then take a complementary swing through some nearly-deserted neighborhoods to see how the residential situation is eerily similar.

In certain neighborhoods, he could buy a house as a souvenir if he has a couple hundred bucks in his pocket.  If he’s lucky, the dwelling he wants won’t be knocked down first in recovery’s name.

But turning buildings into lots qualifies as development here.  With that in mind, Obama should stop by the empty patch where the Aud stood.  His guide can tell him how the city demolished a war memorial after letting it idle for years.

Instead of selling a historical building to a commercial concern who could have imaginatively repurposed it, we just smashed away.  Moving a publicly-built facility into private hands was apparently unthinkable.  On the positive side, he can envision shopping for fishing poles the Bass Pro that will be built on the site circa 2841.

It’s not that there’s a dearth of worthwhile projects to check out in Buffalo; it’s just that signs of development can only be measured with time-lapse photography.  Wonderful sites like the Commercial Slip and Darwin Martin House are still works in progress because both are funded in large part upon tax dollars.

Either restoration could be moving faster if the projects relied on attracting individuals or businesses to invest or donate.  Instead, a public partnership has limited growth.  Hey: it’s just like the jobs created/saved rate.

He might be a little depressed after those stops.  But there are cheery points of interest, too.  Obama should look and learn from what’s nice: by chance, many of the great things about the city emerged precisely because they are unscathed by federal, state, county, or city planning.

For one, the commander-in-chief could enjoy a Chippewa Strip beer summit, experiencing the organic phenomenon of people deciding to have fun by hanging out together.  The revelry offers a lesson: somehow, bars and patrons popped up in the area without central planning.  A pleasantly lax  4 a.m. last call helped, too.

A trip down Elmwood is also necessary.  The hipsters probably don’t appreciate that the area has been enlivened thanks to urban settlers like themselves and stalwart retailers, not wise bureaucrats.

Next, he should check out the offices of greedy fat cat conglomerates like HSBC, Delaware North, and personal corporate hero Labatt USA, all of which create jobs and fuel the economy.  Unfortunately, their success feels like an exception both locally and now nationally.  Why haven’t they just gone broke and demanded a bailout?

Regardless, everyone who’s ever crossed into the city of course must nosh at the Anchor Bar, where Teressa Bellissimo didn’t need a stimulus grant to engage in delicious ingenuity.

All the while, he can meet Buffalo’s citizens, who remain optimistic in spite of experience.  Ideally, he should come back in the fall and sit at a sporting event with locals.

The alleged White Sox backer could learn that Buffalo fans don’t let the frustrating pain of repeatedly falling short paired with maddening decisions by those in power keep them from feeling confident about the possibility of a more desirable outcome next season.  Still, it would be nice to pull a championship one of these blasted years.  Unfortunately, the nation’s general manager is more likely to pursue mediocrity.

Obama will undoubtedly merely look around Buffalo as opposed to actually seeing what’s happening.  His baffling desire to Greecify America means he wouldn’t change his approach even if he did get the picture.

Sadly, that knowledge tempers the excitement over a presidential visit.  For those of us left behind, Buffalo’s copious pleasant aspects will hopefully offer some distraction from having seen what the rest of the country faces next.  Time travel’s side effects include bouts of melancholy and overwhelming nausea.

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