When AOL announced last week that it was relocating its top brass from northern Virginia to new digs in Manhattan, it didn’t quite feel like the end of an era. For most folks, after all, the firm’s moment had ended long ago, in the wake of its disastrous merger with Time Warner in 2000. Then known as America Online, the Dulles-based Internet titan bought out the pillar of old media, promising new fortunes via the magic of synergy. It didn’t quite work out that way, to the dismay of shareholders, employees, and the now-cashiered executives behind the deal. But if AOL is already well-established as a byword for Internet-related hubris, its move nonetheless signals the passing of a more humble aspiration: That Washington D.C., more than 200 years after its founding, was finally becoming just another part of the United States. …
Of course, tens of thousands of people still work in tech around D.C. But the idea of an alternative–and less government-focused–base of regional power and prestige has lost its cachet. On the highways around Dulles, the signs that jump out from the office parks are those like Lockheed Martin and BAE, firms that do much of their business in federal contracting.
Still, you don’t need to scour government technology contracts to see the region’s traditional tropism toward Uncle Sam reappear. Just check out Snyder’s box at FedEx Field. If Sally Quinn was correct when she declared in 2000 that “money is competing with political influence as the going currency in the area,” the guest list makes it clear that politics won in a walkover. Over the past year, according to the Post’s “Reliable Source” column, the non-Broder-reading Redskins owner played host to such Beltway worthies as Peter Pace, Robert Novak, Sam Donaldson, Jack Kemp, Bernard Shaw, John Glenn, Chris and Kathleen Matthews, Al Hunt, Andrea Mitchell, and Alan Greenspan. There was no mention of any guests from AOL.
Read the full — and excellent piece — here.