While literally dozens of Americans (maybe) lamented the loss of round-the-clock Panda-cam coverage at the National Zoo, the real shutdown drama was taking place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
There busloads of World War II veterans – including many in wheelchairs – stormed past barricades erected by the National Park Service, which is closed as a result of the partial government shutdown which went into effect this week.
Cue Normandy Beach, Iwo Jima parallels in three, two, one …
The veterans (from Iowa and Mississippi) were in town for a previously scheduled visit to the World War II Memorial, which is located on the National Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.
U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) was on the scene, and (prepare your surprised face) blamed Congressional Republicans for the veterans’ plight. Meanwhile Congressional Republicans – including U.S. Reps. Michele Bachmann and Peter King – placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of (again, prepare to be shocked) U.S. President Barack Obama, whose Department of Interior erected the gates around the open-air monument.
King referred to the erection of the gates as “perhaps the most bitter, spiteful act ever committed by a commander in chief.”
U.S. Park Service rangers – including one veteran – refused to enforce the barricade. A spokesman for the agency later referred to the veterans as “important visitors.”
U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi – who was joining his state’s delegation of veterans – summed up the “resistance.”
“It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission,” he said prior to moving aside one of the barricades.
We agree …
Of the federal government’s 2.1 million employees roughly 800,000 of them – approximately 38 percent of the total taxpayer-funded workforce – are in the process of being furloughed. The other 1.3 million – approximately 62 percent of the total taxpayer-funded workforce – remain on the job.