An Overreach In Response To Overreach

This week’s Courier Herald Column:

If it seems there is little movement between ideologies on the American political scene, it is likely due to the fact that both of our major parties can’t seem to get out of their own way.  The axiom governing political strategy these days is best described as “For every governing error, there must be an equal and opposite governing error.”  This explains why both Republicans and Democrats are losing the battle of the shutdown.

While hyper-partisan Republicans still argue otherwise, the events leading up to last week’s impasse were a public relations disaster.  If you listened to the speeches and other assorted talking points being lobbed by the GOP’s key players, it appeared that the battle was not with Democrats but with each other.  Ted Cruz was on a mission to establish himself as the king of most pure conservatives, at the expense of every other Republican who ever helped to build the party.

House Republicans were scurrying for high ground. Many of them publicly and privately willing to throw John Boehner under the bus while simultaneously praying he could hold both uber conservatives and more centrist/moderate Republicans in line.

With the standoff clearly under way, it became clear that Cruz – who proudly goaded his House colleagues into the mess – had no gameplan to either win votes in the Senate nor help GOP House members into a fallback position with their base.

Even during the non-negotiations to not end the shutdown, Republicans still were publicly looking for a hand to play.  Rep Marlin Stutzman of Indian told the Washington Examiner “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

Were the story to stop there, it would be fairly easy to blame Republicans alone for the shutdown, and have a reasonable expectation to assume they would be punished in the upcoming mid-term elections.  Democrats, however, are not content to sit idly by and watch their opposition commit unforced errors.  They are now piling on at an alarming rate that gives members of the GOP some hope.

The shutdown began with “essential” park service employees erecting barricades around the World War II Memorial.  Park Service officials were well aware of the number of WWII veterans that make trips to the memorial, known as Honor Flights, on an almost daily basis.  Despite the fact that the memorial is open air, constantly exposed to the weather, and has no official entrance or gates, the Park Service spent money to try and find a way to close it.  Clearly, this administration needed some optics to demonstrate hardship because of what the Democrats are referring to as “The GOP Shutdown”.  It was noted by some members of the press that the World War I memorial nearby received no such treatment.

The result was predictable to anyone who isn’t suffering from beltway shutdown delusional logic.  The WWII vets moved the barricades and visited the memorial as scheduled.  And in the process, it is starting to become clear that the Administration is spending federal employees’ time and the American people’s tax dollars to make this shut down as painful as possible.

Over the weekend, the Parks Service placed orange cones along the roadway in near Mount Rushmore to keep families on vacation from pulling over to look at the monument.  1100 square miles of ocean has been closed to charter fishing.  The ocean, closed, because of lack of appropriations?  That’s the official word.

A privately operated inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina attempted to defy federal orders to close, but relented after two hours.  The operator was told he would lose his lease on federal property if he continued operations.  It’s currently the peak of fall tourist season there.

Perhaps the peak of pettiness occurred Sunday.  The Armed Forces Network was not allowed to broadcast NFL games to troops stationed overseas.  This while troops have been guaranteed pay, and while the Pentagon is preparing to call back 300,000 workers due to a measure passed to insulate soldiers and their mission from the shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made it clear that it’s all about politics.  Asked by CNN’s Dana Bash why the Senate was refusing to pass or even consider CR’s for branches of government not affected by Affordable Care Act Funding – specifically to fund the National Institute of Health to help “even one child with cancer” – Reid responded “Why would we want to do that?”

Reid later made it clear that he loves children and hates cancer, so the meaning of his remark is obvious.  This is all a show.  With an estimated 83 percent of government operations continuing during this “shutdown”, what the administration has chosen to determine as “essential” versus what additional effort is being expended to create the appearance of a shutdown is creating new optics.  Ones that aren’t good for Democrats.

Added to the problem is the troubled rollout of the health care exchange websites and you have a picture of a government that willfully punishes its citizens when it is denied what it wants, but has trouble delivering on the ever increasing promises that it makes.

If ever there was an opportunity for Republicans to illustrate the problems with big government, the Democrats reaction to their initial overreach has given them one.  The question remains can Republicans seize it, or will they again overreach in response?

27 comments

  1. saltycracker says:

    “……a government that willfully punishes its citizens when it is denied what it wants…”
    We are seeing this tactic, long used in education, all too often now.

    “We are both heading for the cliff, who jumps first, is the Chicken”
    James Dean

    At least back in the day one of the drivers lost, not the passengers.

  2. John Konop says:

    ………had no gameplan to either win votes in the Senate nor help GOP House members into a fallback position with their base…

    The GAME PLAN for a compromise! Below would be more real reform than any of us have ever seen in our life.

    1) End War on Drugs…… Billions in savings and increase in job production ie people working and paying taxes over us spending over a 100k a year housing them………

    2) Let VA drug prices be used for health exchanges, veterans family members and government workers ie about 60% savings

    3) Make it a requirement to fill out end of life directives ie most people spend the majority of healthcare in last 6 months and many do want the procedures…..

    4) Use the CPU for SS…..ie saves a lot of money……

    5) Put phones in county emergency rooms for dial a doc for non emergency care for uninsured ie massive savings for healthcare….emergency rooms way more expensive way to treat non emergencies…..

    6) Put in real fraud reforms for Medicare/SS……

    7) Promote common sense sentencing in our courts vs. zero tolerance ie massive savings and once again people working over us spending money on housing them…..

    8) Require all health exchanges to have a HSA option ie allows individuals and small businesses to group together and self insure like large corporations do many times. It saves about 20 percent on healthcare cost, the group would buys catastrophic insurance only, and charge itself the premiums just like an insurance company.

    9) End the policemen of the world military strategy, allowing a 10 percent cut in military spending.

    10) Require end of life living wills ie end of life directive, for people filing taxes or receive any type of government entitlement, assistance……

  3. mountainpass says:

    The workers from the privately run NC lodge forced to close were laid off and will be able to file for unemployment next week.

    • saltycracker says:

      If they worked for the Feds their pay would be restored. The thousands of park visitors that traveled long distances will be disappointed and in many cases will not be reimbursed for expenses, including lodging.

      • Charlie says:

        The one I was referring to is in NC, and no, they are not federal employees. The entire outfit is run with private workers, on land leased from the National Park Service.

      • NoTeabagging says:

        “National Park Service rangers blocked the entrances to the privately run Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway after owner Bruce O’Connell decided to reopen his dining room, gift shop and country store at noon Friday for lunch. The federal government had forced the inn, in a leased building on federal land, to shut down at 6 p.m. ET Thursday at the height of fall foliage — and tourism — season. ”
        O’Connell said Wednesday he would rebel against the order to shutter after seeing World War II veterans reopen their memorial in Washington when barricades blocked the entrances. But he had backed down by the Park Service deadline to close Thursday.
        His family has operated the inn on the parkway about 25 miles from Asheville, N.C., for 35 years. It the only spot for many miles along the 469.1-mile mountain route to sleep or grab a meal and go to the bathroom….
        The 51-room inn was booked solid for October. O’Connell said he plans to send refunds to customers who already paid though many planned vacations to see the fall colors months in advance.
        His 100 employees are idled; 35 live on the property.
        “It’s conscience and conviction that have taken over me, and I just can’t roll over any more,” he said….
        The parkway, which meanders through Virginia and North Carolina joining the Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains national parks, has another privately run inn operating on leased federal land, the Peaks of Otter Lodge at milepost 86 in Virginia. Peaks of Otter Lodge officials closed without balking at the same time Thursday, telling those who had paid reservations that the inn would be providing refunds if guests are not able to change their reservations, according to information on its website.

        Unlike national parks, which have gates and entrance fees, the Blue Ridge Parkway — like other federal parkways including Natchez Trace in Mississippi and Tennessee, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway in Wyoming and George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia — is not closed to traffic but National Park Service visitor centers, historic sites, campgrounds, picnic areas and restrooms along the routes are shuttered because of the budget impasse in Congress.

        The parkway’s chief ranger, Steve Stinnett, said Park Service managers in Washington directed him to block access to the inn at milepost 408.6 and ensure “people don’t utilize a business that, according to the federal government, is closed.”

        Rangers will stay in place as long as they are needed, Stinnett said.

        Most of the inn’s guests had left by mid-afternoon.

        O’Connell said he got a letter from Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis ordering him to shut down. The Park Service also told him he was violating his contract, which expires this year.

        “Right now, it appears we have reached a point where we have to acquiesce, but it doesn’t mean tomorrow something might change,” O’Connell said.

        But he said his defiance was not about the lost revenue.

        “It’s about the visitors. It’s about the staff and employees who are now having to move off the mountain — they live here — with no notice,” O’Connell said. “They have no jobs. That’s the concern.”

        http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/04/blue-ridge-parkway-pisgah-inn/2923169/

  4. NoTeabagging says:

    Thanks Charlie, for the list of absurd, unnecessary closures. Such grandstanding doesn’t inure fans of either team. Of course, I am not a fan of any ‘team’.

    • seenbetrdayz says:

      Hyperbole much?

      Closing national parks is not going to affect “the entire economy.” There are about 4 million workers on the federal payroll. For the other 300,000,000 Americans, life goes on. Democrats are hoping and praying that this won’t continue, for the longer the government remains shut down, the more likely people are to adapt to life without government and the less likely they are to miss it.

      That could prove to be very damaging to the Democratic Party, which has basically built its existence on making sure people are dependent on government. If people no longer need the government, they no longer need to vote democrat.

      (The strategy isn’t just limited to the Democrats, though. This is like how the GOP tried to get people to vote GOP by making the democrats out to be a bunch of pansies on foreign policy. The GOP based its electoral success on making people fear that there is a terr’ist under every bed, and once people realized there wasn’t, John McCain got his *** whooped in the 2008 election)

      • David C says:

        Pretty sure he’s referring to the debt ceiling, which threatens the financial markets, and the dollar’s status as the global reserve currency. The House GOP is playing chicken with the US’ status as the leader of the global financial system, and doesn’t seem to have any clue what they’re doing with it.

  5. Three Jack says:

    Who had the most to gain from a temporary suspension of certain government functions? Who gets to choose what stays open and what is closed? President Obama.

    This is one more sad example of the Obama administration attempting to divert attention from another of its many failed activities, namely the rollout of government healthcare last week. So far they are succeeding as the so-called shutdown has dominated headlines over the healthcare exchange debacle.

    • Ellynn says:

      The point you used ‘organs” to lead into this link leaves me no choice but to NOT click the link.

      Unless it’s Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor… (over dramatic scary organ music just seems to fit the way congress is acting at the moment).

      • Harry says:

        This is real scary:
        http://nypost.com/2013/10/06/why-reporters-fear-team-obama/

        “We have to think more about when we use cellphones, when we use e-mail and when we need to meet sources in person,” said Michael Oreskes, senior managing editor of the Associated Press. “We need to be more and more aware that government can track our work without talking to our reporters, without letting us know.”
        These concerns, expressed by numerous journalists I interviewed, are well-founded. Relying on the 1917 Espionage Act, which was rarely invoked before President Obama took office, this administration has secretly used the phone and e-mail records of government officials and reporters to identify and prosecute government sources for national-security stories.

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