MS over at Democracy in America, talking about the new MLK memorial, suggests it's about the monuments:
There are many culprits in the devolution of much of Washington into a cloddish, ugly, characterless city. And in some neighbourhoods the past 20 years have seen momentum in the opposite direction. But the relentless drive towards ever more memorials is definitely part of the problem. There hasn't been an interesting or culturally significant one built since the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the early 1980s. The FDR memorial is weird. The second-world-war memorial is pompous, empty of ideas, and militaristic; if the other guys had won, they probably would have built something that looked very similar.Too true. Though I like a lot of the monuments and museums, the overall effect is lame. We could definitely stand to relax some of the insane restrictions on the style of new construction at the least.