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Readers Icy About Obama Comments

There's a lot going on in the world and the nation, but in the Washington area, schools have been mostly closed for two days because of a snow and ice storm. President Obama commented yesterday that schools certainly wouldn't have been closed in Chicago.

That poured fuel on the unending debate in this town between those who grew up where it snows a lot -- and therefore have God-given gifts of getting anywhere in their vehicles no matter the weather -- and those who grew up in warmer climes and can't stay on the road. It also resulted in three acts of journalism in the Post this morning, which many Readers Who Comment think was a waste of writing talent, ink and newsprint and many others doubtless think was insufficient coverage.

My friend and former colleague Jeanne McManus made the case for closing schools and told the president, "I believe in shutting things down on a snowy day" because "you don't want me driving in the snow."

And the editorial board said it was "rankled just a bit" by the president's remarks.

We'll start with comments from the main story and stewartr2, who wrote, "Pleeze!! President Obama was right on dude! Washingtonians are winter wimps, and I know why--it's the commute that's got us all held hostage! It sucks and we know that when it snows it's going to be worse than ever. So we close down..."

bknivens was one of many to make the valid point that "The Chicagoland area dedicates massive resources to snow removal, road clearing and salting, on a scale that DC -- with its often more temperate winters -- cannot afford to duplicate..."

pottsplit said, "Send him back to Chicago!!!!!"

Amelgepo was one of several who wrote something like this: "Obama will learn that he can't joke with the Washington media who are constantly trolling to make something out of nothing. There are many things of importance going on, but the Post chose to make something out of nothing. How silly."

tands23 said, "I come from the West and I am surprised how easily things shut down in this city due to snow! Part of the reason are the horrendous drivers of this region who know nothing about snow or ice on roads," a point with which many other out-of-towners agreed.

And JEB2919 wrote, "So the President isn't in the midwest anymore. When in Rome, do as the Romans..."

All comments on the story are here.

Now we turn to Jeanne McManus's op-ed, to which red_hawk1968 responded, "Fabulous! My sentiments exactly. If President Obama wants to be part of this city, then he needs to realize that we just don't have experience driving or walking on ice, and we prefer to take the rare day off rather than endanger ourselves or others..."

Marksfriend said, "Agreed! I am a fan of the prez, but that was a cheap shot at the expense of WDC natives. He'll get it eventually."

fmjk wrote, "... we are tough. We know how to pull over when the President's motorcade goes by. We endure the comings and goings of every Congress, without getting a vote in any of them. Perhaps Obama would like to help us with that..."

barbnc said, "The defensiveness that Obama's comments have brought out in Washingtonians tells me that he sure did hit a nerve."

All comments on the McManus column are here.

As for the editorial, herrbrahms wrote, "I cannot freaking believe that this paper wasted a column with this editorial instead of commenting on the Republicans' attempted obstruction of vital economic stimulus.
A true paper of record wouldn't have spilled the ink."

"kls1 advised the president, "Dude. Quit worrying about bridging the great divide with all the world's foreign cultures -- until you can wise up on how NOT to stir up the federal workforce (that you need, buddy) in your own back yard."

wkorn wrote, "Not only is the ice thin in D.C., but so are the skins of the populace, it would seem."

We'll closed with Wmcfam who said, "There have been days when I have thought the area school systems made the wrong decision about closing schools because of bad weather. Yesterday, with the ice, was not one of them."

All comments on the editorial are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  January 29, 2009; 7:10 AM ET
 | Tags: Ice, Obama, Snow  
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I think the guy was just making idle conversation about something he found a bit puzzling (having dealt with Chicago winters) and a bit amusing. He even threw in a comment from his daughter because, I'm sure, someone told him that kid stories are funny. But, sadly, Obama is just not a very good joke teller, and he might as well face up to that.

C'mon people, lighten up. The guy was trying to be funny. He didn't do very well at it (I've seen other efforts he made to be funny, and they just don't come off), but I think that's all it was. I can live with a President who doesn't do well at telling funny stories.

Posted by: vklip | January 31, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I think the icy reception of the President's comments are more a reflection on the decades of disrespect hurled not just on the federal employees but on the residents of the region in general.

For years, our elected officials have thrived on bashing Washington, any time, any how they can. It's a habit and a bad one, but it can be broken.

Here are a few facts:

1. Roads in this area routinely run at more than 100 percent capacity. Have you noticed how one broken down car can bring the beltway to a dead stop? Have you ever wondered WHY?

2. We don't get much snow and ice in the area, so at the beginning of every season, EVERYONE, even those who grew up in the snow belt (full disclosure: I took my first driver's test in a snow storm) get out of practice.

3. Washington has one of the longest and most miserable commutes in the country. (Forbes Magazine, Nov 2007 and AAA) People want to get in, and get out, and given numbers one and two above, tempers flare. People in the full flower of a temper tantrum are apt to make big mistakes.

Were the DC metro area to possess, based on the number of vehicles involved, the same number and quality of snow removal equipment and staff, we'd do much better.

But then we'd be criticized for wasting money.

Some days, you just can't win.

Note to President Obama: You're not in Chicago anymore. When you bash us, you bash the Federal Government and you bash every resident of the area. We've been bashed pretty consistently ever since Ronald Reagan came to town. If you're thinking we're sensitive: you're right, we are. We've all of us got scars, and many still have gaping open wounds from the stabs of the last administration. Give us a break.

Posted by: Va_Lady2008 | January 30, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

I'm originally from Pittsburgh and currently live in Florida, but I had the pleasure to live in Woodbridge for eight years. Never had so much time off in my life when it came to weather events as I did there. Couldn't understand why it took the snowplows a week to clear a lousy two foot snow event.

Hey are they still hoarding milk and bread up there when the report calls for flurries? Down here in Florida when hurricanes are coming it's the beer section that gets emptied.

Oh and that comment about Cleveland is actually idiotic if you know anything about lake effect snow; which Obama obviously does.

Posted by: horace_simon1 | January 29, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Apparently, they're snow wimps in Cleveland, Ohio, too. The system is just about out of snow days and it's only January.

I use Cleveland as an example because lake effect snow causes huge blizzards on the East side when on the West side, there's hardly a dusting. A foot of snow in the East can shut the whole system down.

Posted by: mdreader01 | January 29, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I admire the new President's honesty. I think those who are accustomed to normal "kiss-up" politics may have to adjust to President Obama. Lets face it...he adjusted to brutal Chicago winters...after growing up in HAWAII! He may have earned the right to issue a "toughen up" comment.

There really is not much more to it than that. Sometimes, amongst men anyway, a comment is just a comment. The "Dr. Phil" crowd can read all kinds of deep meaning into it. Its all hogwash. No issue here - except some sensitive folks with bruised feelings. The President is generally a nice person....Toughen up, already!

Posted by: free-donny | January 29, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

The city of Chicago does have more snow clearing equipment than Washington does but they can't possibly scrape the snow down to the pavement. There are weeks and weeks where people drive on snow packed streets in Chicago. I can imagine the reaction of the sissies in DC if that happened here.

In periods of intense cold kids in Chicago actually play hockey in the street or on parking lots on the hard packed snow with ice on top.

As the president correctly noted they have not canceled school since 1999.

Posted by: MKadyman | January 29, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

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