In the run up to the sequestration cuts President Obama and his allies all but assured us that planes would fall out of the sky and the food supply would be no longer be safe if federal spending was cut (by a meager 2%). Now the same tactics are being employed around the federal government shutdown. Hoping to generate media stories of people who desperately need their government, Obama and his allies are attempting to make this situation worse than it really is or needs to be in order to put leverage on Congressional Republicans. It’s been called the “Washington Monument” tactic after Richard Nixon staffers blocked access to the monument in order to demonstrate the deleterious effects of spending cuts.
Now it is happening again during the current shutdown; or “slimdown” since much of the government, IRS and security apparatus remains operational. On the first day of the shutdown veterans of WW2 appeared at the National Mall for a long planned event at the WW2 memorial. They found the area blocked by fences with park rangers telling them the area was closed. Since the memorial is an open air site this seemed ludicrous; so the men and women who defeated Hitler and Tojo, who stormed Normandy and Iwo Jima, pushed down the barricades and held their event as planned. I would point out these guys are in their late 80s and apparently have more testicular fortitude than most Congressional Republicans.
Now we know the barricades were ordered by members of the Obama administration, who apparently spent money to erect the fencing (Barry-cades) just for the optics of having the national mall “closed”. Similarly, a demonstration farm and museum in Virginia that receives no federal funding was ordered to shut down. The site is technically part of the National Park Service but has been self-funded since the 1980s. Regardless, representatives of the administration put up barriers and ordered the farm not to open. Anne Eberly, the managing director of the farm, stated she has “… never worked with a more arrogant, arbitrary and vindictive group…” referring the administration officials who refused to let her open the farm. Perhaps most demonstrative, the House is sending bills to the Senate to fund and open sections of the government like Veterans Affairs and National Parks but President Obama has flatly refused to sign such bills should they reach his desk. Why else would you actively oppose funding some sections of the government unless you were trying to create as much pain as possible to use as leverage in the spending debate?
There are countless other examples in the news today besides the three I mention here. The larger point is that President Obama is waging a public relations campaign against Congressional Republicans instead of negotiating with them. (Even as he was willing to negotiate with Iran) Like it or not, House Republicans are representing a segment of the population with serious doubts and misgivings about Obamacare and the size and scope of government, just as Obama is representing the another segment of the country. President Obama to refuse to even negotiate is effectively telling half the country to take a hike.