January 28th, 2009
12:38 PM ET
6 months ago

Obama mocks Washington's winter panic

Congress is surrounded.
Congress is surrounded.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Despite ambitious post-9/11 security measures, Washington does remain alarmingly vulnerable to one recurring airborne threat: the humble snowflake.

DC residents are used to derision from chillier quarters of the country over their city’s occasional paralysis in the face of winter weather. After a few inches of snow and some early morning sleet in the first half of the week resulted in a wave of Washington-area shutdowns, the city’s most famous Midwestern transplant couldn’t resist a dig or two at his new hometown’s expense.

"My children's school was canceled today, because of what? Some ice," President Obama told a group of business leaders visiting the White House Wednesday.

"As my children pointed out, in Chicago school is never canceled," he said, adding that his daughter Sasha observed that schoolchildren there would even have recess outdoors.

The president joked that he would have to instill some “flinty Chicago toughness” into his neighbors. "When it comes to the weather, folks in Washington don't seem to be able to handle things.”

That lesson may have to wait for the next winter storm: after a late-day wave of precipitation, DC's forecast for tomorrow is sunny, with highs in the upper 30s.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (211 Responses)
  1. SUE Tx

    @Keith January 28th, 2009 1:41 pm ET
    Stop giving this man publicity, the only people who care about him are the people who will not change their view point. They are already in his corner, so his rhetoric has no real effect, other then making him rich......Why are you Responding IDIOT!!!

    January 28, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  2. rena

    My goodness. I agree with Chaco. It was a side joke, just for laughter. I lived in Germany for 12 years and trust me you don't know what snow is until you go there. They don't shut down school for nothing. The all city have to pretty much go dark with no power in order to shut down.

    But it funny how you go to the different places and how things are done differently due having unusual situations. Just like people up north can't handle the hot weather in the south. They almost die, when 75-80 degrees hit. (ha ha ha) See people it's call laughter, try it sometimes it will do your soul good.

    January 28, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  3. Jan Illinois

    Yes I'd imagine that the people who had applied for that position at the college might get uppity if they are overlooked completely so Mrs. Biden can be on staff, if that is what happened,your right that would be ridiculous" and if it were you that was overlooked you might be talking from the other side of your mouth. I'm quite sure you would be!!

    January 28, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  4. LAB in Dallas, TX

    My kids attend a private school in Dallas – this is their second day out of school, as a result of our ice storm. I welcome the day off, as people in these parts don't drive well on the ice. So far, 37 accidents...and counting.

    January 28, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  5. nom deplume, esq.

    Occasional paralysis?

    I lived there for six years. If they even THINK it will snow, the entire region goes into a ridiculous panic. But it is justified because I found their ability to drive in weather (any weather) to be appallingly bad.

    January 28, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  6. David

    Come on folks. Lighten up when someone makes a joke. It rarely snows in Washington D.C. so they don't have plows to remove it. People there aren't used to driving in it so it creates huge traffic problems. That's the reason schools get closed. If there was a fleet of snow plows there, you would all complain about the wasteful spending for equipment that sits idle 364 days a year just in case it snows on the 365th day.

    I grew up in Minnesota and lived in Virginia for a few years. The first winter storm I saw there had the news folks screaming "Siberian Express". As a Minnesotan, I thought 20 degrees and a few inches of snow seemed like an average winter day - no big deal. I also thought it was odd that it was January and nobody had drained their swimming pools yet. It's not better or worse. It's just different.

    January 28, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  7. Omar

    Obama is right. Hell, even in New York City, schools and businesses generally stay open unless much more than a foot of snow is expected. Of course, a lot of people (mostly students and the elderly) stay home anyway, so it's often a little less busy, but it's far from a complete shutdown. It's been snowing more often that usual here this winter and today is the first day they sent out the snow plows (which are just garbage trucks with a plow attached to the front; not exactly expensive), mostly to apply salt to deal with the heavy freezing rain that took over this morning.

    January 28, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  8. Chicagoan

    Val, words cannot even describe the idiocy of you or your comment.

    January 28, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  9. lr

    I think that people who live more to the North are more used to the winter weather than the ones living close to the South.
    In North there is snow all the time, so people get used to deal with that different way than the ones who se snow only sometimes.
    Like people from Canada 9 or Sweden or so) might be hot in 65 degrees, people from tropics will be shivering in 65 degress.....
    But it is true that schools should be closed only when really really bad weather.

    January 28, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  10. worriedmom

    Why are you "sucking' up so much CNN? This is not news, this is for the Weather Channel. Why don't you inform the public of the issues on the Stimulus bill . That would be more productive.

    January 28, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  11. give me a break

    As I could understand how anyone in D.C could take offense to this, I actually do agree with Obama. I come from a southern town that sold its snow equipment because the government thought it was not needed.

    Now, I won't mention what town it is, but I will say that just recently, the city panicked because they had just gotten 3 inches of snow. The schools, businesses, everything was closed.

    With the nation's capitol, for security reasons, this cannot and should not ever happen.

    January 28, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
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