President Barack Obama obviously has a lot on his mind.
His angry Democrats are fighting those angry Republicans over the so-called government shutdown. It’s not really a shutdown, even though the rhetoric suggests that the sky is falling and the seas are about to give up the dead. This is the 18th time it’s happened since the 1970s, and the republic still stands.
This hasn’t calmed our politicians, who are shrieking like hundreds of dying cats under the porch.
But if the president can just carve out a few seconds of quiet time, he should really think about sending out a team to do some hunting.
Some moron hunting.
Morons may be few in number, but they can be extremely dangerous during times of political controversy. All it takes is a few morons in a president’s administration to ruin a carefully scripted public relations battle.
Especially that unidentified moron who decided the other day that he or she had a great idea:
Put up a barricade and a few guards at the World War II Memorial in Washington, tell veterans groups that it was closed and pin it on the Republicans.
Unfortunately for the president, the moron has disappeared. Yes, perhaps it’s unfair, but the president gets blamed for this, for overplaying his hand.
You don’t need a public relations consultant to explain the strategy: Someone reasoned that the veterans would be upset at the closed memorial and the media (which generally support the big-government establishment) would carry the water and put further heat on Obama’s political foes.
But it didn’t turn out that way.
On Tuesday, Honor Flight groups honoring the veterans showed up at the WWII Memorial. The vets looked at the signs that told them the memorial was closed, and they didn’t follow government orders.
They just pushed their way through. Old men in wheelchairs, some using canes, some whip-thin and upright, with their families and their wives, just walked past the “closed” signs.
The Republicans seized the advantage, just as the Democrats would have done.
“Some idiot in government sent goons out there to set up barricades so they couldn’t see the monument,” said Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican.
He said “idiot,” but “moron” will do just as well.
“People had to spend hours setting up barricades where there are never barricades to prevent people from seeing the World War II monument because they’re trying to play a charade,” Paul said.
By Wednesday, members of another Honor Flight group from Chicago were concerned that the White House would ban them as well. Sen. Mark Kirk, the Illinois Republican and a retired naval intelligence officer, vowed to lead them through. News crews gathered for the story.
“I think it’s shameful,” said Mary Pettinato, CEO and co-founder of Honor Flight Chicago. “It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you’re on, it’s shameful and shouldn’t happen, that men and women that we should be honoring most have to be able to fight to see the memorial we built for them.”
The White House must have sent out an emergency call because there at the World War II Memorial, Democrats enthusiastically showed up with Republicans to make sure the veterans were allowed in.
There was Kirk and Sen. Dick Durbin, the Illinois Democrat, and other congresscreatures and so on.
“Thankfully, we were not blockaded,” Pettinato told us. “The only blockade we had were the politicians. … It’s just an awesome day.”
Pettinato said the 91 veterans enjoyed the WWII Memorial but were told they wouldn’t be able to visit the Korean or Vietnam war memorials.
The whole thing is idiotic, or moronic. If you’ve ever been to Washington and toured the WWII Memorial, or the Vietnam Memorial, you know why.
They’re made of stone. They’re out in the open. These are our secular holy places, commemorating our fathers and grandfathers who died so Americans can scream like cats about who spends what.
You can see the memorials during the day or at night. I’ve been to both when there were no guards present, just soldiers or the families of soldiers.
There was no reason to set up even minor blockades this week, except to play the political blame game. And it hurt the president.
Hans von Spakovsky, a legal scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation, told me Wednesday in an interview that the president was hurt by the foolish decision.
“That was pure political theater. That memorial is on the mall. It’s open 24 hours a day. Even when there are no park police there,” von Spakovsky said. “So they had to go through time and money to send people out there to put up barricades to close it.”
Most of the old veterans didn’t play partisan politics with the issue. Many years ago, when these men were young, the enemy machine guns searching for them didn’t distinguish between Democratic or Republican soldiers.
“To me it’s just like a bunch of little kids fighting over candy,” George Atkinson, 82, of Nevada, Iowa, said of the politicians. “The whole group ought to be replaced, top man down.”
Especially that moron who ordered the barricades, whoever he or she is.
John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune and can be reached at email@example.com.