For all the times that this federal government shutdown repeated fiscal game of chicken has been played – and I have been through this rodeo a number of times – it’s the sheer, petty spitefulness of this iteration which has raised my hackles. Barrycading off the open-air monuments along the Mall – including the WWII and Vietnam War monuments – blocking off scenic overlooks and the parking lots at Mt. Vernon, and forcing the closure of a number of otherwise self-supporting attractions which have the ill-luck to be on federally-owned property. I am glad to know that the governor of Wisconsin is telling the feds to go pound sand, and suspect that the governor of Arizona may be coming close to doing so, likewise. Meanwhile, the commissary at Andrews AFB is closed, and the golf course is open. Yes, I know that they are under different funding organizations, but the optics of this are really, really bad. If this were a Republican administration, I suspect we’d be hearing all about it, with video and stills of tearful and hungry military dependents all over the news, but then if my aunt had testicles, she would be my uncle. For all I know the junior enlisted troops are happily shopping at Wally-world and the generic shelves at the local grocery stores and not missing the commissary very much at all … but knowing that President Barrycade likes to golf there and takes every opportunity to do so … really, as I said – bad optics.
It’s the old Washington Monument ploy, of course. In a budget squeeze, close the most popular services and most-visited attractions and wait for the squeals of outrage from the public to inspire the budgeting powers that be to loosen the purse strings. It’s almost always worked before, but this time around, I’m entertaining doubts. It appears that it’s not just enough to furlough nine out of ten park rangers, padlock the bathrooms and hang a ‘closed’ sign on the Smithsonian; no, they’ve pulled out all stops and called in everyone, likely at no small expense. Emplacing Barrycades all over the place, even before places that were open twenty-four seven, being that they were landscaping attractively adorned with lawns, fountains and statues? Really; how petty, how spiteful – and whose’ monuments, memorials and scenic overlooks are they, anyway? They’re supposed to be ours, to belong to we the people, who have elected our representatives and senators to represent our interests. Ordering various federal functionaries to ensure that the maximum inconvenience, economic loss, and yes – humiliation is visited on us for exercising the right of access to our properties smacks of a monarch or a noble decreeing that the peasants have annoyed and vexed him so much that they are forbidden to set foot on the royal demesne.
I’ll go out on a limb here, and say that I don’t see this ending as expected. The shut-out is being enforced so much more stringently than ever before, and the orders for it come from the top, according to that handful of reporters still committing fearless acts of journalism. The cherry on the top of the rancid sundae is that it looks like Obamacare is melting down already, if the comments on Facebook can be credited. Those who have managed to get into the sign-up process are recoiling in horror. I rejoice to say that of all my own Facebook friends, only one so far has ‘liked’ that page, but then I’ve been hanging out in pretty conservative and libertarian places lately.
(Crossposted at www.ncobrief.com)