A storm is churning.
And we’re not talking Donald Trump’s argument that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is ineligible to become president.
Veterans of the Washington political scene scoff when forecasters command the airwaves with foreboding warnings of epic snowfall, tornadic gales and interminable school delays.
They’ve heard these lines before. They’re inured to foreboding warnings of major snowfalls in the nation’s capital. You’d think they were asking House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to discuss the likelihood of a brokered convention.
They get it wrong all the time.
Remember when it was just rain?
I bet we just get a dusting.
Then, the ultimate parting shot….
And they SURE can’t drive in it here.
Meteorological agnosticism prevails in Washington because its residents constantly parse the prolific spin and hype which dominates politics in the nation’s capital. Caveat emptor. So when they catch word that a snowstorm is on the way, they’re skeptical.
Remember the Jeb Bush juggernaut? Recall how this was a foregone conclusion for Hillary Clinton – in 2008?
Two feet of snow?
Case in point: It was March 5, 2012. An extratropical cyclone churned up the Mid-Atlantic, threatening to dump two feet of snow on Washington. The Senate left town. Then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., trimmed the House schedule to get lawmakers to the airport early. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) shuttered the federal government.
Then it rained.
The nor’easter eventually blanketed regions in New England with three feet of snow. The storm finally spit an inch of snow on the most-southerly extremities of the District of Columbia. Reagan National Airport recorded 0.2 inches of snow.
But it’s not always like that.
There’s video evidence. Perhaps on Netflix.
The old man sits on a park bench on the National Mall. He’s bundled up in a dark coat and fedora. He leafs through a folded newspaper. A thick layer of snow seals the ground, stretching from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial. A younger man in a suit and winter coat approaches him. The elder fellow is Denton Voyles of the Justice Department, played by actor Steven Hill of Law and Order fame. The younger man is Mitch McDeere, a hot-shot lawyer portrayed by Tom Cruise. The movie is "The Firm," directed by Sydney Pollack.
They hoped to shoot the scene on the National Mall in mid-March, 1993. That’s when Washington flirts with spring and the cherry blossoms explode with color.
Instead, they got “The Storm of the Century” in March 1993. It was an historic tempest which spanned from Canada to Central America. The blast pelted regions as far south as Florida with snow and hurricane-force winds.
The “Knickerbocker Storm” buried the capital in 22 inches of snow in 1922. Two days later, the roof of the Knickerbocker Theatre in Washington collapsed, killing 98 people. Rep. Andrew Jackson Barchfield, R-Pa., was among the dead.
In early January, 1996, Congress and President Bill Clinton finally halted a trio of partial government shutdowns which started in the fall of 1995. 110,000 government workers had been off the job for three weeks when they inked the deal. But a blizzard crippled Washington with two feet of snow. The impasse was solved, but federal workers couldn’t get to work.
During the same storm, a leaky roof at the Library of Congress’s Jefferson Building forced workers to take emergency measures to protect various books. The wind blew sheets of snow into the air ducts of the Library’s Madison Building, producing an interior drift four feet in height.
A hat trick of Snowmageddons all played roles in the Democrats’ efforts to approve health care reform during the winter of 2009/2010. A blizzard buried Washington in two feet of snow just before the Senate approached a post-witching hour procedural vote on Dec. 21, 2009. Democrats needed all of their members to vote aye to clear the parliamentary hurdle. But then-Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., hoped the weather might tilt the field in the GOP’s favor.
“The American people ought to pray is that somebody can’t make the vote tonight,” Coburn said on the floor.
Only the Senate met this week as the House has been on recess. But that won’t stop some lawmakers from attending the annual March for Life on Friday. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., are scheduled to speak at various events. Thousands of pro-life demonstrators always descend on Capitol Hill to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
Despite the storm prediction suspicions, there’s substantial evidence that legendary blizzards periodically pummel the capital – even if people perceive it as an over-reaction.
Disbelieving is a slippery slope. As slippery as the Wednesday night commute home in Washington after just an inch of snow. The squall converted 20-minute drives into nightmarish, five-hour odysseys. Even President Obama wasn’t immune to the paralysis. The weather snarled Obama’s motorcade as he tried to return to the White House after landing at Joint Base Andrews. The journey usually consumes 25 minutes. The president’s jaunt consumed an astonishing hour and 12 minutes.
Capitol Attitude is a weekly column written by members of the Fox News Capitol Hill team. Their articles take you inside the halls of Congress, and cover the spectrum of policy issues being introduced, debated and voted on there.