Mother Nature rules on Inauguration Day


Will Mother Nature upstage President Obama’s second inauguration? (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)
Al Kamen
Columnist December 12, 2012

Seems like a design flaw in the 20th Amendment 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 inauguration, and those forecast storms in Charlotte this summer that drove his convention speech indoors — it’s possible that the ­
A-list attendees at next year’s ceremonies will be 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 In 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 presidents, Ronald Reagan and William Howard Taft, have moved their inaugural ceremonies indoors since the open-air tradition began. Reagan’s second inauguration, in 1985, is the coldest on record, the congressional committee says, with a temperature at noon of 7 degrees.

Others, though, have braved extreme weather, such as the surprise snowstorm that made President John F. Kennedy’s swearing-in a chilly affair (and led to some harrowing moments, including a space heater catching fire and the glare from the snow making it impossible for poet Robert Frost to read the verse in front of him).

In another interesting historical note, Obama is likely to be the first president since four-termer Franklin Delano 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 again in the splashy rite the next day on the Capitol’s West Front (barring a weather emergency). Remember that he took the oath twice in 2009: 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 on that front this time — they’ve both had some practice.

The inner circle

There’s chatter — maybe wishful thinking by some folks — about former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle leaving his law/lobbying firm, DLA Piper, and going to the White House as either chief of staff or a senior adviser.

Doesn’t look likely. Someone in a reasonably good position to know tells the Loop there’s been no contact between the White House and Daschle on this matter. (Well, not yet, anyway.)

Deputy Chief of Staff Pete Rouse — who used to be Daschle’s chief of staff in the Senate and became Obama’s chief of staff after Daschle lost in 2004 — has let it be known that he is interested in leaving, though he has said that before.

Speaking of the chief of staff, with incumbent Jack Lew said to be departing, perhaps to Treasury, Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides and former Biden chief of staff Ron Klain are obvious possibilities to replace him.

But there’s increasing talk that deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough is a strong contender to move into the lovely corner office down the hall from the Oval, which comes with a working fireplace, the beautiful Don Regan memorial outdoor patio and a bottle of painkillers.

We wrote recently that national security adviser Tom Donilon may want to stay on for a couple of years. Actually, six months to a year might be closer to it.

Upstairs from the chief of staff’s office, word is that White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler may be staying in her job. Ruemmler, the third White House counsel in the Obama administration, has been in the job 18 months.

Your move, Karl

Zinger of the week from GOP consultant Rick Tyler, courtesy of our colleague Glenn Kessler’s latest installment of the Fact Checker.

Kessler looked into whether Republican overlord/strategist Karl Rove was good on his word that he wouldn’t make a dime off the hundreds of millions collected by American Crossroads, the super PAC he ­
co-founded.

Tyler had said he didn’t believe Rove.

Kessler reported that, in fact, Rove was right, and when he contacted Tyler for an eat-some-crow response, he didn’t get an apology — he got a barb.

“I withdraw my assertion,” Tyler said, “and concede that he is paid exactly what he is worth.”

Ouch.

A climate change

Jane Lubchenco , the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, announced Wednesday morning that she’s leaving the agency at the end of February. Our pals at the Capital Weather Gang note that she’s led NOAA during some controversy at the National Weather Service — including criticism of its handling of warnings about Hurricane Sandy.

We’ve known for a while, too, that Lubchenco has been eager to return to her family on the West Coast. It’s a long-expected goodbye.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop
. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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