Seems like a design flaw in the Constitution that presidential inaugurations happen in January, when Washington tends toward nasty blizzards and frigid temps.
And with President Obama’s particularly bad luck with weather — remember the deep freeze that was his 2009 inaugural, and those forecast storms in Charlotte this summer that drove his convention speech indoors — it’s possible that the A-list attendees at this year’s ceremonies will get upstaged by the ultimate diva guest, Mother Nature.
Not to fear, inaugural planners are already considering what to do in case of another Snowmaggedon.
Planners tell the Loop that the protocol is that if the forecast is grim the day before, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies convenes a phone call with the Presidential Inauguration Committee and the other agencies involved in the big day (think security and transportation types) to make the decision on whether to take the ceremony indoors.
They would notify the public asap, then move the ceremony to the Capitol’s Rotunda. Two other presidents, Ronald Reagan and William Howard Taft, have moved their inaugural ceremonies indoors since the open-air tradition began. Reagan’s 1985 inaugural is the coldest on record, the congressional committee says, with a temperature at noon of only 7 degrees.
Others, though, have braved extreme weather, like the surprise snowstorm that made President John Kennedy’s swearing-in a chilly affair. (And led to some harrowing moments, like a space heater catching fire and the glare from the snow making it impossible for poet Robert Frost to read the poem in front of him.)
And in another interesting historical note, Obama will likely be the first president since four-term Franklin Roosevelt to take the oath of office four times. This time, he’ll be sworn in twice, once in a small ceremony on the constitutionally mandated date of Jan. 20 — a Sunday — and the second in the splashy rite the next day on the Capitol’s West Front (barring a weather emergency). And remember, in 2008, he took the oath two times: He had to be sworn in a second time after Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed a line during the public ceremony.
Look for smooth sailing this time, since they’ve both had some practice by now.