Yesterday, my buddy Clark Judge and I spent about ten minutes figuring out whether to go ahead with the party that Clark’s company, the White House Writers Group, planned to put on tonight in Washington for my new book. We looked at the forecast on www.accuweather.com, saw that there would be nothing more than rain and gusty but moderate winds, and decided to go right ahead.
That was a mistake.
Why? Not because the forecast was wrong–rain and gusty but moderate winds are still just about all that any weather service expects to hit Washington tonight, and as I compose these words there’s not a darned thing wrong with the weather but pearly gray skies. What Clark and I forgot, however, was that our real problem wouldn’t be the weather. It would be that the media was intent on scaring everybody half to death. After 24 hours in which, lacking any other story, the TV and radio news have done nothing but talk about gale force winds and surging tides, Washington has simply shut down. Schools have closed. The Metro has stopped running. And–into each storm a ray of sunlight must shine–the federal government has taken the day off.
This morning, Clark received two telephone calls in quick succession. The first was from Barnes and Noble. They’ve closed all their bookstores in the Washington, they said, and have no way of delivering to the Jefferson Hotel, the site of the party, even a single copy of How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life. The next was from the Jefferson Hotel itself. Reduced to a skeleton staff, the hotel explained, it would be hard-pressed to continue functioning, let alone to host a party for a couple of hundred.
Right now? I’m about to go out for a long jog–deserted, Washington looks strangely beautiful–then get together with Clark for a long, well-lubricated lunch.