Government Shutdown National Parks The Daily Banter

Tea Partiers Exploit the National Park Service as a Prop While Attempting to Abolish It

My Tuesday column:

The tea party put on quite a show on Sunday. Billed as the “Million Veterans March,” roughly 300 people turned out to hear Sarah Palin and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) deliver brief remarks about “the Obama shutdown,” followed by a ceremonial gathering of government barricades from various closed D.C. monuments and using them to vandalize the north gate of the White House.

Of course there were the usual ringers found every tea party rally: a guy in colonial garb, lots of pale white skin and, predictably, a Confederate battle flag. Because nothing says “Honor Our Veterans” like waving the battle flag under which a rebel army killed more than 140,000 U.S. soldiers in defense of a states’ right to own slaves.

While we contemplate the incoherence of such a gesture, let’s go back to the barricades thing.

As we’ve observed since the government shutdown began, the tea party has been exploiting the mandatory closure of the World War II Memorial as a political prop. It’s been one of the most bizarre displays of through-the-looking-glass politics we’ve witnessed in recent memory. Yes, Congress refused to fund the government, so it was forced to shut down non-essential services, taking with it all of the various memorials administered by the National Park Service within the Department of the Interior.

If you force the government to close, things that are run by the government will close, too. But, weirdly, the House and Senate Republicans who allowed this to happen in the first place have employed a twisted, upside-down, I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I political trick to make it appear as if President Obama closed the government, thus stymieing a busload of wheelchair-bound World War II veterans from visiting the monument. Of course, tea party acolytes might not realize that the House of Representatives is the governmental body responsible for passing appropriations. Not the president. And those appropriations include the operating budgets for the Department of the Interior, which includes the National Park Service, which, in turn, is responsible for the World War II Memorial.

In fact, this might be the closest the tea party has come to entirely eliminating Interior. Palin and Cruz don’t want you to remember that Interior is one of several cabinet level departments the tea party would eliminate. And if you eliminate Interior, you eliminate the National Park Service… [CONTINUE READING]