The so-called government “shutdown” which is not really a shutdown at all, but perhaps more of a slowdown, is now approaching the end of its first week. In that time, President Obama has used the vast powers at his disposal as the chief executive to intimidate, harass, and otherwise persecute the American people for daring to disagree with him. However, the same is also true of the rest of his presidency. What we are seeing now in the headlines is nothing new, but is instead the climax of Obama’s prideful arrogance and vindictive bullying. Here is but a partial listing:
ON THE FIRST DAY of the “shutdown,” World War II veterans on an Honor Flight were barred from entering their own memorial on the National Mall. Undeterred, the superannuated heroes of Midway, Normandy, the Ardennes, and Iwo Jima–many of them in wheelchairs–pushed the flimsy barricades out of the way and visited the memorial anyway. Later in the week, after realizing he was no match for the generation that beat Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo, Obama turned his attention to Vietnam veterans instead. Unsurprisingly, they also defeated the Park Service’s makeshift barricades.
ON THE SECOND DAY of the “shutdown,” no doubt spurred on by Obama’s bellicose rhetoric, the same Park Police that were protecting memorials from wheelchair-bound ninety-year-olds the previous day moved on to a more deserving target: the entirely privately owned and funded home of our first president, George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Ironically, during the Revolutionary War, General Washington faced chronic problems with Congressional funding of the war effort, but managed to win anyway. Perhaps Obama is jealous.
On the same day, an aide to President Obama contacted the coaches for the Navy and Air Force academies asking them to cancel their planned football game on Saturday even though both athletic programs are entirely privately funded and actually generate more revenue from advertising than what is spent. No thanks to our petulant Commander-in-Chief, the two teams met as planned and the Navy won 28-10, however Obama did manage to score some cheap political points on his own goal by turning off the television feeds for overseas military personnel.
ON THE THIRD DAY of the “shutdown,” we learned that the Obama Administration was threatening to arrest civilian Catholic priests for celebrating Mass on military bases. This is not a question of the separation of church and state at all, but rather is another example of Obama’s quest to make the shutdown as unpleasant as possible for as many people as possible. No word yet on whether any priests were arrested for bringing the Mass to Catholics who serve our country.
Late that evening, not content to make life difficult for American citizens, Obama also used the crisis as an opportunity to damage our standing in international relations by cancelling his planned trip to the APEC summit in his boyhood home of Indonesia, sending Secretary of State John Kerry in his place. Obama’s political stunt is now making longstanding allies like Japan and Korea question whether America will always be there to support them against Chinese aggression. Not to worry though, John Kerry will probably volunteer Russia’s assistance instead.
ON THE FOURTH DAY of the “shutdown,” President Obama started to really get creative. Taking a page right out of the old-school Chicago political machine handbook, Obama turned his attention to the dead. Having failed to block veterans from visiting war memorials, the President settled for the next best thing: preventing people from visiting the graves of our fallen heroes. To his credit, it’s a lot easier to block dead people from visiting war memorials.
ON THE FIFTH DAY of the “shutdown,” no doubt emboldened by his success at harassing deceased war heroes, President Obama started to think really big. There was once a saying that politics stops at the water’s edge, but really, why should we stop there? Why not close the ocean? That’s right. President Obama ordered Park Rangers to close the ocean. The thing really speaks for itself, so I’ll just say it again. President Obama tried to close the ocean. That is all.
But of course that’s not all! President Obama also tried to shut down the sky–not all of it of course, but a big chunk of it in the vicinity of Mount Rushmore and several other scenic vistas in South Dakota. The Park Police were once again sent out on an essential mission vital to the security of our nation: placing orange cones along the shoulder of state-run highways–which aren’t even federal property. Undeterred by the menacing orange cones, one family did the logical thing and simply removed them.
ON THE SIXTH DAY of the “shutdown,” in Nevada, the National Park Service (do you see a trend here? Are these really “essential” employees?) evicted an elderly couple from their cabin which they own, because it happens to sit on federal land. Ironically, Harry Reid’s home state is upwards of 80% federal land–a percentage which is astonishingly almost four times that of the District of Columbia. I wonder how many of his constituents will appreciate being kicked out of their homes because he wanted to make a political point? [N.B., this is the same Harry Reid who earlier in the week asked a reporter why he would want to help kids with cancer.]
ON THE SEVENTH of the “shutdown,” we learn that the website for the Amber Alert system was restored after bloggers noticed that the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign website was still up, sending the morally ambiguous message that the Obama Administration cares more about keeping kids safe from the dread scourges of sugary soft drinks and greasy potoato chips instead of, say, pedophiles and serial killers.
These episodes are a symptom of the deep-seated animosity towards the public that President Obama has fomented among his supporters from his earliest days in office. In everything he says and does, Obama has been uncompromising and almost vulgar in his insistence on using the heretofore non-partisan power of the bureaucracy to advance his ideological agenda. Now, confronted by the failure of this strategy, Obama is lashing out like a wounded animal with even greater fury than ever before and we will continue to see new reports each day of what this means in practice.
On the bright side, we can take some solace in this past Sunday’s reading from the Book of Habakkuk, “The rash one has no integrity; / But the just one, because of his faith, shall live.” Interestingly, Pope Francis also spoke about the rights of conscience the other day. As the Catechism tells us, “This right is based on the very nature of the human person, whose dignity enables him freely to assent to the divine truth which transcends the temporal order.” President Obama may be quick to wrath and vengeance, but with each new tyrannical temper-tantrum, we can and should meet Obama’s spiteful abuses with dignity and patience.