For anyone who doubts that President Obama and his minions are choosing to make the government shutdown as painful as possible, be informed that it’s a decades-old White House ploy with a revealing name: “the Washington Monument Strategy.”
It works like this: Turn visitors away from our great national memorials to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln, point on the Mall at Capitol Hill, and yell “Congress made me do it.” Then hope the public falls for it.
It almost backfired Tuesday morning when a group of 92 veterans arrived at the barricaded World War II Memorial, guests of a citizen sponsored “Honor Flight” from Mississippi. A National Park Service policewoman wouldn’t let them in.
A group of Republican congressmen who had come as greeters defied the NPS and shoved the barriers aside. The valiant veterans, some in wheelchairs, took the memorial like it was Iwo Jima or Normandy Beach. Park police sensibly let them tour to their heart’s content – but shut things down again after the veterans left.
There’s a storm looming over this “make it hurt” strategy outside of Washington, says Don Amador, activist for motorized outdoor recreation and founder of TrailPAC.
“This shutdown will affect America in ways that you would have never imagined,” said Amador. “All 401 national park units – 84 million acres – are closed and the National Park Service website is not operating, leaving no way to check conditions. Visitors already in the parks were given 48 hours to leave.”
Thousands of tourists are unexpectedly finding parks closed, nobody there, hotel and campsite reservations useless at Yosemite, Sequoia, Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains, Big Bend, Acacia, Denali, and 394 other NPS destinations. The personal disruption and loss will be horrendous.
Groups of Grand Canyon river rafters are being stopped at Lee’s Ferry, Arizona, by armed park rangers, banned from floating down the Colorado River through the national park – one group from Philadelphia spent over $30,000 for the non-adventure and faces hundreds of dollars more for flight-change fees to go home disappointed.
House Natural Resource Committee Chairman Doc Hastings urged legislation to reopen and fund the national parks, but the Democrat-controlled Senate rejected the Washington Republican's proposal, suggesting some powerful political motive.
I asked a congressional source whether National Parks Director Jonathan Jarvis had said anything about the park-closure decision.
I was told that Jarvis had assured officials that the decision was his alone, but upon further inquiry it was determined that the White House Office of Management and Budget ordered Jarvis to close the parks. Not surprising, since the “Washington Monument Strategy” was an old White House trick to begin with.
Amador added, “National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands are likewise closed. Hunters will find their expensive permits and tags worthless in the midst of deer season this week-end.
“But the largest single group of federal land users is the off- highway vehicle community, calculated by federal land managers at 21 percent of the total American population – more than 60 million people who have made a least one off-road trip in the past year.”
These recreationists are being turned away at popular sites that support thriving local economies from the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area to the Gulf Islands National Seashore off Florida and Mississippi, and Vermont’s snowmobiling favorite, White Rocks National Recreation Area.
Amador summed up the situation: “The White House is overplaying its hand. Its no-compromise stance is not about Obamacare or the budget, it’s about politics and power.
"President Obama could stop this shutdown with a word. He’s not doing it. His autocratic intransigence is losing the goodwill of 60 million fellow Americans.”RON ARNOLD, a Washington Examiner columnist, is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.