Even some media outlets supportive of Barack Obama’s presidency are starting to acknowledge his manipulation of the partial government shutdown is going too far.
Some federal government funding ran out earlier this week when Senate Democrats, and Obama himself, refused to negotiate with majority Republicans in the House over a spending bill that defunds Obamacare
Tasked with selecting which functions of government should be shut down, the Obama administration created a firestorm of negative publicity this week when it ordered rangers to barricade otherwise fully accessible public areas in Washington, including war memorials.
An angry Park Service ranger indicated to Washington Times columnist Wesley Pruden that there is a political motive behind the closure of the open-air memorials.
“We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can,” he said. “It’s disgusting.”
The closures have even included some privately funded sites. Access to the national cemetery honoring World War II veterans in Normandy, France, was shut down, and a road allowing repair workers access to flood-ravaged Estes Park, Colo., was closed. Private vendors near some national sites have been told to lock up and go home.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill a Democrat in the House accuse the Republicans of waging “jihad.”
“The gentleman from California said [the shutdown was hurting] the towns around Yosemite. Was he thinking about that when he voted to shut down the government?” ranted Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., on the floor of the House. “He was prepared to sacrifice the local economy. He was prepared the sacrifice the towns around Yosemite when he was on the jihad against American citizens getting access to health care.”
Miller was ruled “out of order.” After he left the floor, Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, said he was “disgusted” by Miller’s comments.
The closures and cancellations have prompted private donations to fund the military academy football games Saturday. The Republican National Committee has offered to cover the cost of keeping the World War II memorial in Washington open, and Arizona offered state funds to reopen the Grand Canyon.
A senior administration official coldly told the Wall Street Journal: “We are winning. … It doesn’t really matter to us” how long the shutdown lasts.
But the report said White House allies already were concerned because Obama “is the most visible symbol of the U.S. government … and will inevitably share I the blame as hardships mount and people weary of the infighting.”
The Journal continued: “Already, the shutdown has produces images of inconvenience, lost pay, and disruptions in wedding and vacation plans.”
Even so, the Journal reported some Democrats want even more force applied.
“Looking back on it, we probably did too much accommodating to them,” said David Plouffe, an Obama adviser during a budget fight in 2011.
He said this year, the only solution is the Republicans “relenting.”
See Miller’s rant:
But Wesley Pruden at the Washington Times assessed the issue this way: "The games politicians play: Barack Obama is having a lot of fun using the government shutdown to squeeze the public in imaginative ways. The point of the shutdown game is to see who can squeeze hardest, make the most pious speech and listen for the applause."
Pruden said Obama has closed Washington down "as tight as he dares, emphasizing the trivial and the petty in making life as inconvenient as he can for the greatest number."
"It's all in a noble cause, of course," he wrote. "Access to most of the memorials is limited, and often in curious ways. The Lincoln Memorial is easy to reach, with the streets around it remaining open. But the Martin Luther King Memorial is made difficult to reach, relegating it, you might say, to the back of the bus. Not very nice."
Pruden noted the pressure seems to be loading up on Democrats, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid snapping at a reporter who asked about a GOP plan to fund programs on which the sides could agree, such as the National Institute of Health.
"If you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn't you do it?" the reporter asked.
"Why would we want to do that?" Reid retorted. " … This is — to have someone of your intelligence to suggest such a thing maybe means you're irresponsible and reckless."
The Washington Examiner's Ron Arnold also saw through the press statements from the White House.
"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 play. ... 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."
What has the Obama administration been doing? Besides, as Arnold reported, having the Office of Management and Budget order National Parks Director Jonathan Jarvis to close down:
- Access to federal lands for outdoor recreationists at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area was shut down.
- Grand Canyon river rafters were stopped at Lee's Ferry, Ariz., by armed rangers and told they were not allowed on the Colorado River.
- Campers and visitors already inside the parks, even with permits for camping, were given 48 hours to vacate.
- Spending money to install concrete barriers to stop fishermen from putting their boats into the Bighorn River in Montana.
- There are reports members of the Border Patrol have been ordering agents to "stand down and cease pursuing drug smugglers, human smugglers and traffickers and illegal aliens." A critic said officials reported such orders are "a means of addressing budgetary shortfalls."
- There was a suggestion from a lawyer that private tourist attractions ordered closed by the Obama administration should sue. "They should immediately file a lawsuit and seek a temporary injunction against the government," said former Justice Department lawyer Hans Von Spakovsky. Among sites shut down was Virginia's historic Claude Moore Colonial Farm, which operates without federal funding.
- In Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer asked for permission to pay to keep the Grand Canyon open, but federal officials refused.
- South Dakota officials volunteered to use state employees to keep Mt. Rushmore open and were refused.
- Grocery stores and other services for members of the military reportedly closed in some locations.
- Segments of various federal agencies, such as the Department of Education and Internal Revenue Service, closed.
- Yellowstone and other parks all shut down.
- The Park Service even took the extraordinary step of turning off its website.