Tales from the Trail

Washington blizzard finally gets respect from ‘flinty’ Obama

President Barack Obama, who famously chided Washington for not being “flinty” enough in dealing with snow compared with his hometown Chicago, isn’t scoffing any more as a winter storm threatens to dump up to 30 inches on the U.S. capital this weekend.

WEATHER-USA/SNOW“I think even a transplanted Hawaiian to Chicago has sufficient respect for a forecast of nearly two feet of snow,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters as snowflakes fluttered against the window of his West Wing office.

Midwesterners like Obama like to brag how tough they are in winter weather compared with their East Coast brethren. That said, Gibbs noted the president was not going to have to shovel the White House’s many paths, although he allowed that the Obama daughters Sasha and Malia  might well play in the drifts or get out the First Family’s sled.

Washingtonians, whose city is far enough south to rarely face this sort of severe winter weather, do not deal well with snow. Schools shut after only a smattering of snow gathers on the ground – which was the basis for Obama’s original complaint – and traffic descends quickly into chaos.

“Being from Alabama, I am happy to inform you I will be getting off the road and watching you all try to drive,” Gibbs said.

The First Draft: chilly winds and hot air

There’s a cold wind blowing in Washington on Tuesday morning, one day after a late-winter storm dumped up to a foot of snow on the region. DC residents anticipate a thaw when our national leaders provide their daily dose of hot air. WEATHER-USA/SNOW

President Obama meets U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the White House at 11:30. They are expected to discuss their efforts to revive the global economy.

After that, Obama meets with Boy Scouts at 3 p.m.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies to Congress about the economy starting at 10:00, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testifies about Obama’s budget proposal at 12:30. Markets are continuing to swoon after yesterday’s plunge; will their testimony spark a rally?