The government shutdown quickly produced a perfect photo-op of its impact–and of the battle to avoid blame. Tuesday, World War II veterans couldn’t access their own memorial. The dozens of veterans who had traveled from Mississippi with Honor Flight were greeted with barricades and fences, blocking their access to the memorial that was built in their honor.
Republicans scrambled to send the message that this problem was the fault of President Obama and the Democrats.
“For political purposes, President Obama and Harry Reid wanted the government to shut down so they could say, ‘Look at those evil Republicans. They wanted this to happen, and they want to make sure World War II veterans get shut out,’” Rep. Michele Bachmann said to cameras outside the memorial. “We said nuts to that. We aren’t going to let World War II vets used as political pawns and so that’s why we showed up today–to help them.”
Speaker Boehner decided to incorporate the National Parks Service into his series of piecemeal refunding plans, in order to re-open the memorial barricades–without reopening the doors for the hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal workers.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus picked up on the talking point quickly, holding a press conference outside the memorial on Wednesday.
“Make no mistake,” he said. “It was the Obama administrations’ choice to barricade this memorial, and it was their choice to lock out veterans across this country.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, who spearheaded the defund Obamacare effort that led to the shutdown, joined in the blame game.
“President Obama is so fixated on forcing Obamacare on the American people that he’s even willing to deny World War II veterans the right to access the memorial they have earned through their heroic service,” he said in the statement. ”This scenario encapsulates the bigger problem in Washington. President Obama is so set on imposing his destructive, far-left ideology that his government is literally barricading World War II veterans out of their memorial and blocking funding to the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
“He sounds like a kid at a playground who has lost and doesn’t want to admit that he’s lost,” said U.S. Navy veteran Rep. Jim McDermott on PoliticsNation. “He’s blaming everything on the president. None of its his fault. He didn’t have anything to do with it. He isn’t anywhere near it. He’s like the kid who comes in with chocolate all over his hands and says ‘I didn’t eat the cookies.’”