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Obama Pokes Fun At D.C.'s Snow Aversion

NPR'S Scott Simon reflects on President Barack Obama's complaint about how people in the Washington, D.C. area deal with snow and ice. The president jokingly chided the area this week after his daughters' school closed due to the inclement weather.

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This week, President Obama opened a meeting on the economy by saying he just had to get something off his chest.

President BARACK OBAMA: My children's school was canceled today. Because of what?

Unidentified Woman: Ice.

President OBAMA: Some ice?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Woman: Welcome to Washington.

Unidentified Man: Chicago.

(Soundbite of laughter)

President OBAMA: As my children pointed out, in Chicago, school is never canceled. In fact, my seven-year-old pointed out that you'd go outside for recess in weather like this.

(Soundbite of laughter)

You wouldn't even stay indoors. So, it's - I don't know. We're going to have to try to apply some flinty Chicago toughness to this town.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Rah. The president's comments might reflect some of the frustration of moving from Chicago, where the civic creed is, I will, to Washington D.C. where the municipal motto might as well be, not so fast. By the way, the District of Columbia's public schools did not cancel classes. It was the private school which Mr. Obama's daughters attend that canceled them. But Washingtonians are a little loony about snow. Mere flurries make weathermen wail, schools shutter, food stores empty and people slip and slide like sailors staggering down Bourbon Street. In Chicago, they say, snow, shmo, and salt, shovel, and otherwise dispose of it the way Al Capone disposed of Bugs Moran. Washingtonians think, that's an awful lot of heavy lifting for an event that strikes just once or twice a year. Mayor Marion Barry once enunciated his stunningly simple snow removal plan. Hey, it'll melt.

At the same time President Obama was proclaiming some of the virtues that Chicagoans like to feel are instilled by Great Lakes winters, Governor Rod Blagojevich was demonstrating that true character is not guaranteed by geography. He was on trial before the Illinois State Senate, but rather than offer a point-by-point rebuttal, Mr. Blagojevich whirled through a circuit of talk shows like Tom Cruise trying to sell a bad movie. He didn't quite bounce on Oprah's couch, but he let slip that he'd pondered offering America's daytime queen a seat in the U.S. Senate. Now, some impeached politicians would stand defiantly in the docket against their accusers. Governor Blagojevich decided it was time for his close-up.

(Soundbite of song, "Everything's Coming Up Roses")

Ms. ETHEL MERMAN: (Singing) Curtain up! Light the lights! You got nothing to hit but the heights! You'll be swell. You'll be great. I can tell. Just you wait. That lucky star I talk about is due! Honey, everything's coming up roses for me and for you!

SIMON: Ethel Merman. This is NPR News.

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Simon SaysSimon Says NPR's Scott Simon Shares His Take On Events Large And Small