Friday, January 30, 2009

Message Discipline

"'My children's school was canceled today because of what?' an incredulous Obama asked Wednesday before a meeting. 'Some ice?'"

President Barack Obama, quoted in: Andrea Stone, "D.C. snow closures puzzle former Chicago resident," USA Today, January 29, 2009.

"..President Obama was photographed in the Oval Office without his suit jacket...Mr Obama, who hates the cold, had cranked up the thermostat...'He's from Hawaii, O.K?' said...David Axelrod."

Sheryl Gay Stoberg, "From the Top, the White House Unbuttons Formal Dress Code," New York Times, January 29, 2009.

How do we interpret President Obama's scorning of DC's fear of a little snow and ice with his need for extra warmth during DC's moderate winter? A cross of Chicago and Hawaii?

As a dislocated Chicago for two decades, I too have scorned locals as they scurry for supplies at just the mention of snow. I remember DC schools even closing from a heavy rain. Over time I've realized three things about the Mid-Atlantic and have moderated my disbelief. You may not confront these realities any time soon given your new driving limitations and the nature of your vehicle. First, people have little experience driving in slush or whatever so accidents occur. And drivers do stupid things. Second, governments and other public institutions aren't quite as prepared to handle the snow and ice. Not that Chicago always gets it right, as I remember. Third, we got hills.

I've learned to admit that I like a snow day once in a while. And, Mr. President, about the warmth thing, try a sweater.

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