City Desk

On a Snow Day, Obama Disses D.C., Recommends “Flinty Chicago Toughness”



After Sidwell Friends canceled school yesterday, President Barack Obama had some harsh words for D.C.

"Can I make a comment that is unrelated to the economy very quickly?" Obama asked at a morning economic briefing. "It has to do with Washington. My children's school was canceled today. Because of what—some ice? As my children pointed out, in Chicago, school is never canceled."

Obama went on to suggest that D.C. would do well to emulate "flinty Chicago toughness."

"I'm saying when it comes to the weather, folks in Washington don't seem to be able to handle things," he concluded.

That's right: Our new president considers capital-dwellers a bunch of pansy-asses who can't deal with a little dusting of snow.

Sad part is, he's probably right.

Video after the jump, courtesy of NBC Washington.

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  • Fredo

    Thing is, there's no "probably" about it. He's *totally* right!

  • PQ Rez

    I want to be Chicago tough but that would require the National Park Service and DC Government to actually salt and shovel the sidewalks in front of their properties downtown. How about it DC Government and NPS?

  • Grumpy

    While he is right, he also speaks from a midwest point of view. Folks from the Chi or Minneapolis or Wisc. or Denver, etc. all feel that way.

    But for us born and bred here, we are used to this weather way of life. I don't know how those areas deal with sand/salt/snow/ice removal, but here it has always been rather hit or miss. We can do better, but we play the hand dealt. After almost hitting the ground, I almost reconsidered coming in myself.

  • Charlie

    I grew up in the Washington area. When I was young school would not have been cancelled in weather like yesterday. However, times have changed. We now have over a million lawyers in the US who are waiting to be fed, and a fatal accident due to the weather would potentially cost a school system millions of dollars.

    Plus midwestern residents and municipalities are better prepared to deal with snow and ice. They have snow tires and chains and lots of plows.

  • emrj

    Ice storms shut down midwestern cities, too. I'd love to have a straightforward snow storm, inches and inches of fluffy stuff, but we always get these icy slushy mixes.

    But, the midwest is all flat, straight streets, easy to plow and easy to navigate; The DC area has a lot of hills... and a lot of crappy drivers.

  • Burke Omalley

    Obama is right. They don't close the schools in New England or Chicago. Only in the DC metropolitan area is a little snow or ice cause for a major shutdown of schools. What about snow tires? What about four wheel drive buses? What about adopting an attitude of yes we can go to school instead of "Well it's a good thing the schools are closed, because I wanted to stay home anyway." We always look like a bunch of wussies. Which is of course what we are.

  • sdianand

    DC cannot handle snow.It snowed maybe three inches yesterday. For NYC public schools to close it would have to be at least 10 inches and then only one day. I heard on the news today they are considering closing schools because of ice already on the ground.DC doesn't have rock salt?

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  • Darrow

    Actually, DCPS took two hours off. Private schools, a different story...

  • ivy

    Dc area is more attuned to ice storms (5inches the highest), NOT snow and very Hilly.Except the past 10 yrs Ice storms have usually been reserved to the southwest side of us.because of el nino, la nina or global warming: your pick. Which is fine imo. I like warm weather. What we had recently is nothing to blink at to what we've had in the past (in terms of ice). Any REAl dc resident would know that. Throw bad traffic and serveral school bus fleets and a culture of complaining here and u have dc weather.we also have a slightly frigid attitude u won't see elsewhere. but I love it :)

  • Thor

    I grew up in Minnesota. We'd go to school during 12-inch snowstorms or -30 temperatures. It builds character. President Obama is absolutely right....Washingtonians are weak and full of excuses. This is why, if the Taliban rode into town, they'd behead us all within hours.

  • Lisa

    Look at Obama - he's not even wearing a coat and there's SNOW on the ground. I, personally, resemble Eskimo villager when leaving my apartment.

  • Rachel

    This is the problem with a transition city like DC. Everyone's from somewhere else. And yeah, a lot of people are from northern regions, like MN or IL or MA or where have you. But then a lot of people are from FL or southern CA or TX or other toasty climes. The result is mutual dissatisfaction, because you have the southerners wondering how in God's name they can be expected to drive when FROZEN WATER is FALLING from the SKY, because they may have literally never done this before, and flinty northerners unable to comprehend a fuss over a mere three inches of solid ice. Moreover, the city infrastructure reflects a warmer climate. It's fine to say we should be tougher, but our city isn't built to deal with winter weather because it generally just isn't a big deal. Why go to all the trouble of investment when a real blizzardy winter only hits occasionally?

  • Rene G

    I believe school systems leaderships were appointed to respond with wisdom to adverse situations where the safety of at least one person is at the edge. Our President has a huge priority in his shoulder and that is not about the closure of one or two schools. That comment will influence the next decision those leaders will make, hopefully, not to regret.

  • Lisa

    Has anyone filed a libel slander lawsuit yet? (Welcome do D.C., President Obama. (just kidding! I'm thrilled you're here !)

  • Meme

    Hey, HEY ~ Mass panic over snow is a D.C. Tradition - don't mess with our folklore, man.

  • al gonzales

    It's part of the local culture that promotes laziness. The main reason the DCPS are open is to feed the kids.

  • Lisa

    President Obama - perhaps you don't understandd - we react to heavy rain like there is an impending Tsunami.

  • http://meme Lisa

    Al Gonzales - perhaps you can find somewhere else to live. Sounds like the current adminstration is not going to be your cup of tea.

  • Rita

    I liked Lisa's comment about dressing like an Eskimo Villager!

  • Ted Scheinman

    I'm having fun picturing that too.

    Thor's description of the "Taliban [riding] into town" was also reasonably vivid.

    Quite the flurry of comments, in any case.

  • Dave

    Ugh. That was a particularly putrid pun, TS.

  • Ted Scheinman

    ...and it precipitated a particularly scathing response!

    OK, now I'm done.

  • Weitzel.

    And to think, that would create jobs, and a need to buy vehicles. Now if we only had a Stimulus Plan, and money....Crap, we spent all our money on newly appointed Lobbyist and that previous Stimulus Plan that will probably fail. Not to mention the closing of Gitmo, sending all those troops home to fend for themselves.

    THATS WHAT ALL THOSE PRISONERS FROM GUANTANAMO DO!!! they can ice off all the roads for the kids to go to school. and at half the charge too :D


  • Irvin

    It's true. I live in Chicago. We're tough.

  • Mac

    I've lived in the snowy midwest and also D.C. It's not just about people being "tougher" it's about local government and taxes going into purchasing snow plows and other types of equipment. If the snowy weather is infrequent enough, it's not considered worth it to invest in the equipment and labor. The same thing is happening in London right now with the city shutting down due to snow. It's easy to call ourselves tougher, but the fact is, if the schools and government locally decide to close down, most of us are just as happy to take a snow day as they are in "wimpy" locales!

  • George

    In response to Burke Omalley, I don't know where you live but I'm out here in New England and we cancel school quite often. We've already had 3 or 4 snow days this year along with 1 delay and 1 early release.

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  • Bum

    NYC needs more closing. DC is not as bad has it is up here so Obama needs to choose is words better

  • luxedesignnyc

    DC SUCKS when it comes to snow plowing. Snow is like an emergency situation here in DC. its pathetic.

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