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Snow Day Winners. But the Big Story: The Veep Misfires--Big Time

Winner of the big blog's Snow Day Roulette game:

Maggie, who correctly predicted that school throughout Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland would raise the white flag. She also called the two-hour delay in the District correctly, though she, like me, wrongly assumed that Prince George's County would go along with the D.C. schools in that decision. PG instead joins the others in the Big Three (Fairfax and Montgomery) in closing.

MoCo appears to have made the first decision to close, though of course many would argue that the system really made that decision in about 1983, at the dawn of the age of security ueber alles.

Reader BDTLRVA makes the point on behalf of parents everywhere, writing, "I guess it is important for kids to be taught that no theoretical danger, however slight, should be dealt with in person. Retreat home and watch daytime TV, which seems to me to be more dangerous for kids than walking down a snowy or icy sidewalk."

As for me, I reiterate my call for a law requiring school administrators to come to your house and watch over the kids while mom and dad head off to work, because pretty much every single office in the region is open even when virtually every classroom is shuttered.

The tiebreaker in today's contest was going to be the number of minutes the local TV news shows devoted to snow hysteriamongering at the top of their 11 p.m. broadcasts. As it turned out, we didn't have a tie to break, but if we had, we'd have ourselves a bit of a quandary because the lead story was not the snow, but the news that Vice President Cheney shot a guy.

Why this story is being played as a brite--that's newspaper lingo for a cute little piece that offers the reader a chuckle--is beyond me. Here's the #2 guy in the nation firing a weapon and hitting a 78-year-old lawyer from Austin, sending him to intensive care. The vice president's office delayed releasing the news for a day (if a vice president shoots somebody deep in the heart of Texas and nobody hears, did it really happen?), the victim was flown to a trauma center and remains in the ICU, and Dick Cheney puts out a statement saying he's glad the guy is doing "fine?"

I'm not a doctor, but I've been in enough ICUs to know this: If you're there, you're not "fine."

Apparently, the victim will survive and that's good to hear. But isn't it a bit unseemly for the veep to have left town on the afternoon following the quail hunting expedition? If you shot somebody by accident, wouldn't you want to stick around for a couple of days to make certain he was "fine," to express your apology to the family, to offer to help in some way? Even if you are vice president and spend much of your time in secret locations, doesn't basic human decency call for you to cancel your plans and sit tight?

James Brady, the former Reagan press secretary who was disabled in the 1981 assassination attempt on the president and became a gun control advocate, issued a somewhat churlish, if mildly amusing, response to the shooting: "Now I understand why Dick Cheney keeps asking me to go hunting with him. I had a friend once who accidentally shot pellets into his dog - and I thought he was an idiot."

Maybe we all need a snow day.

By Marc Fisher |  February 12, 2006; 11:53 PM ET
Previous: Let's Play Snow Day Roulette! | Next: Revenge: So Sweet, So Ugly, So Addictive


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The closure of area schools when business and government remain open is the height of irresponsibility.
The cost to the economy is high, and the kids fail to
learn to overcome some discomfort in pursuit of an education.

everymajor thorofare is open, all the secondary roads are plowed.
every school snow day when business is open should
cause a mandatory pay cut to the teachers and administrators.
We'd see then, how many schools close for minor weather

Posted by: pat bahn | February 13, 2006 12:33 AM

Jeez, the usual suspects (PG, Montgomery, Fairfax, etc.) are closing down Monday, even after a whole day to plow and let the sun do its thing. What a bunch of wussies. Arlington got 9-12 inches, and it's open for business.

Posted by: Phil | February 13, 2006 12:38 AM

give it a rest. the teachers deserve a three-day weekend. no matter what you do, teachers work harder than you do.

Posted by: Erik | February 13, 2006 10:12 AM

I've said it before and I'll say it again, we are raising a generation of weather wimps.

Posted by: Darryl | February 13, 2006 10:27 AM

Get a grip, Marc. Is everything the Vice President does an occassion for you to point out that you don't like him or anything he does?

How would the Vice President's hanging around this guy's bedside help him to recover? Aren't the ICU docs and nurses best qualified to take care of him?

I'm sure the Vice President has sent him some nice flowers, a new bird gun, and a get-well card. As soon as he's up and about, the Cheneys will invite him and his wife to dine on wild game at their home on Massachusetts Ave. and they'll all share some bourbon whiskey and a few good laughs. They're Texas Republicans.

Posted by: Buckshot | February 13, 2006 11:38 AM

"Basic human decency"? That's a good one Marc. When has Dick ever shown compassion for any person?

Cheney is the type of person whose own wife and children would admit that he's not a very nice guy.

Posted by: Lisa | February 13, 2006 12:00 PM

This could be good for the President. Any White House official who leaks or disagrees with the Prez will be invited to "go hunting with the Vice President." Heh, heh.

Posted by: CT | February 13, 2006 12:21 PM

I also believe we are raising a generation that will be shocked when they get into the workforce and see that they don't get to stay home just "because". If there are legitimate weather concerns (if the snow stopped today instead of yesterday), it would be called for. But the roads were FINE, the adults could have gotten there, why couldn't the pampered little tykes of MoCo.

What a spoiled generation we are raising!

Posted by: ChickieBaby | February 13, 2006 12:37 PM

Marc, you failed to point out that New York got more than TWO FEET of snow and its schools are open today.

Posted by: harvey | February 13, 2006 12:47 PM

Harvey's comparison is not really on point--New York City schools opened on time (compared to the District's opening 2 hours late), but a perusal of a list of local closings linked to the NY Times shows that almost all suburban school systems are closed for the day. These are comparable to MoCo & Fairfax, although in NY/NJ school systmes are local rather than county-wide.

Posted by: JSL | February 13, 2006 1:41 PM

Yeah, how 'bout them NYC schools open for business after a record snow fall. Why are our kids in DC "snow" bound at home on a clear Monday?

Posted by: cg | February 13, 2006 1:44 PM

No, JSL, most suburban NY schools are open, after a one- or two-hour delay. Few are closed.

Posted by: Elisa | February 13, 2006 1:55 PM

Cheney's "victim" got peppered because he didn't make his presence known when he returned to the group and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong moment. In any case, it's certainly not wholly Cheney's fault, but I'm sure that the two of them aren't going to be dickering over blame; some people understand that an accident can just be an accident and nothing more.

Also, the only reason he was in the ICU (if that's even accurate) is because he's 78 and had some odd bruising on his neck. This has all been covered in *other* media outlets...I can't figure out why the Post is so behind the curve on the story.

Posted by: ERH | February 13, 2006 2:00 PM

teachers may deserve a 3 day weekend, but we deserve a future workforce that learns you have to go to school (and life) in non-ideal weather situations too. and btw you'll get a 3 day weekend this weekend for President's day

Posted by: cg | February 13, 2006 2:13 PM

Can we all agree that a lawyer getting shot should be considered "good news"? Seriously, when was the last time a lawyer made a constructive contribution to society?

Posted by: Jacknut | February 13, 2006 2:17 PM

Teachers need a three day weekend? Come on! What other profession involves a three month break, plus weeks off during the winter holidays and spring break. Yes, their work is hard and noble, but they are certainly getting a better deal in terms of time off than almost anyone else out there. Honestly.

As a transported midwesterner, the DC terror of snow is absolutely mind boggling. My Wisconsin schools didn't close when we had feet of snow or the groud, or when the temperature dipped below zero. The response to weather here is just another horrifying indication of the DC version of parenting.

Posted by: Mary | February 13, 2006 2:35 PM

Peppering? He didnt' get a handful of rice thrown at him! He was shot in the face with a shotgun!
By calling it "peppering", it downplays the inherent danger of guns and the responisbility of owning and operating them. A 7 year old boy was killed over the weekend in Spotsylvania Co. in an accident with a similar shotgun.
You hear of people shot every morning on the news, do you hear them saying "So and So was "lightly peppered" by a shotgun last night and now he's in the ICU. But the victim is doing just fine, couldn't feel better!"

It is outrageously irresponsible to downplay the effects and responisbility of owning and operating firearms.


Posted by: Pepper | February 13, 2006 2:44 PM

What does this have to do with DC parenting? We are as shocked about this as you? Okay, there was some talk of melted snow re-freezing monday a.m.--but why not do a 2-hour delay, by which time everything could be sanded and plowed? It's ridiculous that my son and I are out cavorting on this beautiful day--when he could be in school and I could be working.

Posted by: parent | February 13, 2006 3:24 PM

Mary-It's interesting to read what disdain you have for teachers and the D.C. metro area. With respect to teachers, you are correct that they do have a summer vacation but bear in mind that it is not a full three months as it begins in late June and school resumes in late August. It doesn't speak well of your midwestern education if you cannot calculate this as a two-month hiatus. Many teachers are required (and I believe this to be a good requirement) to take continuing education classes at local universities and summers are their only opportunity to do so. Additionally, they do one of the most important jobs in this country but get paid next to nothing. I am a 25 year old college graduate and, after three years in private industry, I make only $5K less than my mother who has a master's degree and a Ph.D. and 40 years of teaching experience. Something tells me that teachers would gladly work year round and forego the vacation time you write of so snidely if they were paid what they deserve. People wonder why we can get great, highly motivated educators; we'll never get the best people to teach because the best people, in this day and age, are too smart to work their rear ends off for a mere pittance of a salary.
Also, with respect to your rant about the Washington D.C. area, I agree that it was foolish for so many school systems to be closed when the weather conditions don't warrant it but I find it interesting that you cite this as an example of "D.C." parenting. It's a shame that you have such distaste for an area you chose to move to. If D.C. doesn't have the right atmosphere, please feel free to return to Wisconsin. I was born and raised in Washington D.C., have an amazing work ethic, got a top of the line education and have more world experience and cultural exposure than I would venture to guess a Wisconsin transplant would have.

Posted by: Allison | February 13, 2006 3:24 PM

Growing up in NYC and going to college in Boston, I am still a bit unsettled by the way schools in the metro DC area are so quick to close anytime there is snowfall. I've only experienced one snow day - a result of nearly 3 feet of snowfall - in my 15+ years of schooling. NYC public schools are all open today without delay despite record snowfall...and that includes largely suburban Queens and Brooklyn, areas similar to MG and Fairfax counties.

Posted by: RB | February 13, 2006 4:03 PM


How much do they spend for snow-plowing and snow removal in Wisconsin? We get so little snow here each year that we can't afford to invest as heavily in that sort of equipment as they do in Wisconsin. Instead we start school two hours late (the District) or take snow days. If that's "horrifying parenting" then you probably need to get out a little more. Didn't they teach you anything in those mid-Western schools?

Posted by: Buckshot | February 13, 2006 4:03 PM

Ditto to Allison re DC. It's always ironic to true native Washingtonians (born and raised here) to hear such statements as "DC parenting" or "DC panic to weather" or "DC driving". When most of the characteristics of these come as a result of a melting pot of inhabitants from all over the nation. Point of fact with this being such a transient area there are just as many litigious "Midwestern" parents now working and raising families in the "DC area" who've pushed the school administrators to this UBER-cautious school closing. Growing up here not all that long ago in the 70s and 80s, my butt was out the door in many a well below freezing icy day walking to school or waiting on the bus. In Fairfax County to boot. And yeah, I fell on the ice a few times, and you know what I learned? Tough, it happens, but you still have to go to work and to school. It's not a "DC parenting" thing. It's a fallout of the last decade of overreacting from the "Me generation parents" and those parents are found in more places than just the DC region.

Posted by: cg | February 13, 2006 4:07 PM

To those of you who are worried about raising a generation to expect snow days at work: relax. It'll get trained out of them at college. That's what happened with me, and I only went as far north as Baltimore. (Of course, I might not have picked up enough discipline to avoid the occasional blog break, but clearly I'm not alone in that.)

Posted by: Farragut South | February 13, 2006 4:11 PM

Why does VP Cheney "shoot" a quail but merely "pepper" or "spray" Mr. Whittington? Spin, Spin, Spin.

Posted by: cg | February 13, 2006 4:14 PM


If Mr. Whittington does not recover from being peppered with buckshot, then his heirs would say he was "shot dead as a quail." If he and Mr. Cheney get together and have a few good laughs about it, then Mr. Whittington would say "You sure peppered me good."

It isn't spin. It's understanding how other people see the world.

Posted by: Buckshot | February 13, 2006 4:19 PM


Indeed, but it churns the stomach when administrations use semantics to paint the worldview their way. It belittles the American people and creates a war over words instead of the real issue. When in any way you put it, I'm not loving the idea that the peppering actions of my VP are handled not by the press staff that my tax dollars pay for, but by a private citizen in Texas who casually contacts the local paper. Let us know right off the bat and we can all have a good laugh over Mr. Whittington's being peppered in a quail hunting mishap. But the delay and mishandling is a shot of foolishness from someone who really ought to know better. Even a toddler knows to personally announce his accidents.

Posted by: cg | February 13, 2006 4:33 PM

Those who rant about schools being closed when the main roads are cleared should talk to my friends who are bus drivers in Loudoun County. The busses don't just drive on the main roads, you know. Heck, just go drive around on Loudoun's wild and wooly little side roads in the snow. In Loudoun, many of the roads travelled by school busses are unpaved, and therefore extra difficult or impossible to plow clear of snow. Imagine being a bus driver with a bus full of children on a narrow, hilly and icy road (like many in Loudoun), suddenly facing a car coming at you going way too fast for the icy conditions, and making the split-second choice: put the bus in the ditch, or hit the car head-on. As you imagine making that split second decision, remember that the children are not wearing seat belts. Then tell me it isn't better to be cautious about snow days, even if it means that sometimes the school system over-reacts.

Posted by: Pvillepeg | February 13, 2006 4:42 PM

I'd still rather go hunting with the VEEP than driving with Teddy Kennedy. I know which one won't leave me to die in a ditch.

Posted by: Jacknut | February 14, 2006 10:27 AM

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