Fein: Snow use complaining

Jordan Fein

Over the past week, business in Washington ground to a halt, and to the president and Congress’s credit, it wasn’t even their fault. Record snowfall resulted in an accumulation of 55 inches, the most in D.C. history, prompting the Office of Personnel Management to shut down the federal government from Monday to Thursday last week and closed early last Friday and this Tuesday.Our own Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), was none too pleased. Last Friday, Durbin complained Washingtonians go “into a full scale panic” during snowstorms, acting like the city is under a nuclear attack. Although he did acknowledge “this has been a heck of a snowstorm,” Durbin quipped Illinoisans “know how to live with it.”I’ll be the first to applaud the resilience many in Illinois display in the face of atrocious weather, but in defense of those in Washington, the Chicago area has never experienced a snowfall of more than 23 inches, which occurred from Jan. 26-27, 1967. And Durbin himself displayed little confidence in the face of Washington’s bad weather. The day after criticizing Washingtonians for being afraid of snow, he hopped into a plane for a week-long trip to Africa. Touring refugee camps in the Democratic Republic of Congo, focusing on HIV/AIDS treatment in Ethiopia and discussing regional security concerns with the president of South Sudan formed a perfect cover for Durbin’s elaborate plot to escape a capitol that still harbored 17 inches of snow as of his departure last Friday. Mobilizing the resources necessary to restore our capitol to normal, thereby allowing our political process to stagnate due to the efforts of obstructionist legislators and hesitant presidents instead of the weather, has been no easy task. Instead of poking fun at Washington, Durbin could have better spent his time shoveling some snow of his own, or at the very least he could have made fellow Illinois Sen. Roland Burris do it. Or to be even more proactive, Durbin could work with other legislators to improve the capitol’s emergency preparedness and ability to respond to inclement weather. Pending a Joe Lieberman filibuster, such an effort could enable OPM to minimize the number of days it shuts down government. For better or for worse, when Durbin returns from his safari Friday, Washington should be back to business as usual. I, for one, can’t wait. Weinberg junior Jordan Fein can be reached at [email protected]