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Political Theater

The nation’s 18th government shutdown has begun and will likely continue for another two weeks. In past shutdowns, both sides have tried to make the other side look as bad as possible in public, while negotiating to end the shutdown behind the scenes.  This time, there probably won’t be any negotiations between House and Senate because Harry Reid doesn’t want to negotiate and, in fact, is doing everything he can to make negotiations impossible.  Negotiations will have to be between Republicans and Obama, and he’s leaving the country.

Disclosure: my husband is a federal employee, so yeah, this matters to us. I have a lot of friends in the D.C. area, and it matters to them.  But honestly, it isn’t immediately affecting most Americans very much. After a couple of weeks, more and more people outside the federal bubble will begin to feel the effects. (By the by, you know what would prevent this nonsense? If Congress passed budget authorization and appropriations every year like the Constitution instructs. Looking at you, Reid!)

Shutdowns are not a good thing, so it behooves the disagreeing parties to come to an agreement as quickly as possible, forcing them to negotiate. In lieu of actually negotiating, the Democrats strategy, as it was in the sequester, is to make the shutdown seems as painful as possible, even going out of their way to affect things that ought not be affected. The primary example is the World War II Memorial on the National Mall. If you aren’t familiar with this memorial, it is a huge, open-air plaza situated at the end of the Reflecting Pool, opposite the Lincoln Memorial.

Yesterday, the Memorial was barricaded and National Park Service employees sought to prevent a group of Honor Flight Vetss from visiting the memorial. The men who stormed the beaches of Normandy and took Iwo Jima said screw that.

WWII vets breach barricade
Veterans push past barricades while Representative Steve King distracts the guards. Who says politicians are useless?

But why was this open-air monument barricaded in the first place?  The NPS defense is that they have to shut it down because CPR and maintenance. But as Ace of Spades so succinctly states,
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“[L]et us note once again how contrived it is to shut down entryways to a wide open space out in the middle of a park. 

This is not a building, like a museum, that has doors and staffers and guides. This is (@*$&) scenery.

And yet the erected artificial barriers to block people from walking through outdoor scenery.

Voila! Now we can pretend a memorial standing unsupervised out in the open is a “National Park” or “Open Air Museum” and close it to pedestrian traffic (and people can in fact just walk through this thing in their normal transversing of the city).”

From a cached National Park Service webpage:


The Memorial is a set of columns and a plaza in the middle of a heavily traveled open space. Barricading and guarding it was a contrived situation to make the shutdown hurt more than it ought. In fact, the NPS has threatened to arrest nonagenarians who attempt to visit the Memorial today. They want to make it hurt.

Other examples of this contrived harm are shutting down websites. Some sites, like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, did not shut down but posted a notice that they won’t update until the government reopens. That seems reasonable. If something goes down, they probably won’t fix it, either. But some sites took the extra steps of removing their content from the internet and putting up irritating notices, including the National Park Service. They have staff to harass American Heroes, but not to. . . leave a website alone?

The NPS also went out of its way to close facilities it has nothing to do with running. Gabriel Malor reports that NPS erected barriers at Claude Moore Colonial Farm, even though it is staffed and run completely by volunteers. “According to CMCF managing director it the first time the NPS showed up at the volunteer-run site was to put up the barricades.”  Want proof this is contrived? “In previous budget dramas, the Farm has always been exempted since the NPS provides no staff or resources to operate the Farm.”

The Democrats want this shutdown to hurt so they don’t have to negotiate.  But just like you don’t give in to a toddler throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of the grocery store, we shouldn’t let the Democrats get away with refusing to negotiate and compromise and do the job they were hired to do.

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