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President Obama's Memorial Day Complicated by Storms at Home and Abroad

The inclement weather wasn't the only hiccup in the president's day.

ByABC News
May 31, 2010, 2:57 PM

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2010— -- Standing at the presidential podium this afternoon on the stage of a Memorial Day ceremony at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, a rain-drenched President Obama raised his left hand in a show of authority, while his right hand held a wind-buffeted black umbrella, and issued an order.

"Excuse me, everybody listen up," the commander in chief told the crowd huddled under umbrellas and plastic bags amid a torrential downpour outside Chicago. "We are a little bit concerned about lightning. This may not be safe. So I know that all of you are here to commemorate the fallen and that's why we're here. What we'd like to do is, if possible, have people move back to their cars."

The president, already facing scrutiny for his decision to skip Memorial Day ceremonies at Washington's Arlington National Cemetery, promised to wait out the storm for 15 minutes before deciding whether to continue, leaving hundreds of onlookers to trudge across flooded fields and muddy parking lots to take shelter in their vehicles in the meantime.

But as soon as the president walked down from the stage and back to his own car, the presidential motorcade drove off, later returning only briefly after the event was canceled to greet some of the soaked audience members who had holed up on nearby shuttle buses.

The inclement weather, however, wasn't the only hiccup in the president's day.

Shortly after departing the cemetery, the presidential motorcade screeched to a halt on Interstate 55 after one of the black SUVs blew a tire. The passengers got out and piled into another car before continuing to a Cook County VA hospital, where the president visited with wounded military service members.

The president's agenda got off to a rocky start early this morning with news of a botched Israeliattack on a Palestinian aid convoy, threatening to complicate Middle East peace talks, and news the Gulf oil spill continues to get worse.

Obama also continued to take fire from conservative veterans groups who have attacked the him for not attending Memorial Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington.

Obama, who spoke at Arlington last year, spent the weekend in Chicago with his family. Vice President Joe Biden delivered remarks at Arlington today instead.