Barely a century after his presidency (and less than a century after his tenure as Chief Justice), William Howard Taft is basically a historical footnote, a trivia question about “the fattest president.” And that’s a shame. President Taft deserves a fresh look in 2013 – just not for his connection to the Syrian civil war.

Yes, the house where former President Taft lived – and died – on Wyoming Avenue in Washington has a Syrian flag out front these days – it was the official Embassy of Syria until 2012, when the US State Department expelled the country’s top diplomat after the Homs massacre. So with no diplomats in the US, what goes on at the Syrian embassy these days? The big black gate kept me from finding out, but I did see a yard crew hard at work. So that’s something.

Taft’s house is at 2215 Wyoming Ave. NW in DC; the surrounding Kalorama neighborhood was also home to Franklin Roosevelt, Warren Harding and Woodrow Wilson, whose home is a museum today and therefore insulated from diplomatic crises. Hopefully.