The federal government’s shutdown over an impending storm before snowflakes even speckled the sidewalks of the nation’s capital prompted Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) to tweet, “DC Fed Gov shut down by snow… What a bunch of wimps.”
The government’s packing its bags and shutting down as a result of inclement weather reinforces the notion in the minds of Americans that Washington is a city of dubious fortitude. Tuesday, at a school in the District Shaw neighborhood of D.C., Michael Cucciardo was the only one to show up to work. He said that he saw some snowflakes but didn’t see a snow crisis. “It’s snowing,” he said. “It’s winter. The roads are a little wet.”
Cucciardo grew up in Pittsburgh and went to college in Wisconsin. “Below-zero temperatures and six to seven inches of snow is business as usual,” said Cucciardo, who has lived in D.C. for 30 years now. “It’s really manageable. They just don’t know how to handle it as well. I think we tend to overreact.”
When President Obama came to D.C. in January of 2009, he ridiculed his daughters’ school for closing during a snow storm, claiming that in their hometown the kids went outside to play during recess in this kind of weather. He boasted, “We’re going to have to apply some flinty Chicago toughness to this town.” Obama now subscribes to the tenet, “when in Washington, do like the Washingtonians.” On Tuesday at noon, the White House canceled all of Obama’s planned meetings and announced that Obama would not be leaving the mansion.
Much to the consternation of Al Gore and Climate Change Truthers, government agencies have shut down due to snow and cold weather more times in the last five years than they did in the ten before that, according to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The federal government has been closed for weather ten days since 2008, according to the OPM. That includes “snowpocalypse,” which buried Washington in severe snow for a week and the March 2013 “snowquester,” which disappointed snow storm enthusiasts.