How far are President Obama and congressional Democrats willing to go to shift blame for the government shutdown to House Republicans? The list is steadily lengthening, but it is instructive to review the examples thus far as the shutdown enters a second week:
– World War II veterans: When a delegation of aged Mississippi veterans of World War II showed up at their memorial last week, they encountered barricade fences erected by the National Park Service to block access to the expansive, open-air facility. Aided by sympathetic House Republicans, the vets pushed the political barricades aside. When a similar scene happened the next day, Park Service officials “allowed” access for the visiting vets — many in their 80s and unlikely ever to have another chance for such an occasion — in consideration of their First Amendment rights. It was the first of a series of cheap shots by the Obama administration.
– On the other side of the country, a Nevada couple were given 24 hours to leave because their home rested on federal land. Ralph and Joyce Spencer, 80 and 77 years old, respectively, did as ordered. The NPS told a local news outlet that "unfortunately, overnight stays are not permitted until a budget is passed and the park can reopen." The Spencers have been "overnighting" in their home for more than three decades.
– At Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, the NPS blocked motorists’ access to overlooks where Americans for generations have stopped to take photographs of the majestic granite likenesses of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. And just across the Potomac River from the Obama White House, the Claude Moore Colonial Farm was closed by the NPS despite the fact it is privately owned and operated and hasn’t received federal funding for 30 years.
If these examples seem intended primarily to prove somebody’s political point by maximizing the pain of the shutdown, it’s because that has been exactly the goal of the Obama administration. That’s not an editorial opinion — it's what Park Service rangers were told to do, according to one who talked to the Washington Times.
But the two most telling illustrations had a common element in the most vulnerable among us: the ill and missing children. In the former, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was asked by CNN’s Dana Bash why not support a House Republican bill to fund the National Institutes for Health “if it would save one child’s life”. Reid’s cranky response: “Why would we do that?”
In the latter, the Washington Examiner first reported Sunday evening that the Department of Justice had taken down the government’s Amber Alert website “due to the lapse in government funding.” Within hours, thousands of people were talking about the closure via Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Other news organizations picked up the story and by noon yesterday, the web site that has helped save so many kidnapped children was restored. Somebody, starting in the Oval Office, should be ashamed.