Filed under: Politics | Tags: Obama's Misjudgment, The Autocrat, The Problem of Power
“The conduct of the National Park Service over the last week might be the biggest scandal of the Obama administration.” said Jonathan Last at the Weekly Standard. It would join such abuses of power as Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the IRS, the NSA, the HHS mandate and the long, long list of EPA excesses.
Although a spare 13 percent of the government is all that is affected by the shutdown, Obama has struggled to make it as painful for the public as possible in a juvenile nose-thumbing at the people. Catholic soldiers not allowed to attend mass, commissaries on military bases closed, so military people have to head for the nearest town to buy simple household supplies are annoying inconveniences for the people involved.
When the Park Service started closing open air memorials on the National Mall, people sat up and began to take notice. As someone said, these are monuments open 24/7 and there are no doors. The Park Service brought in people and barriers and armed guards to install doors in an open air park. And when it was exposed that those attempted to be kept out were 90-year-old World War II veterans on a once-in-a-lifetime Honor Flight trip to see the monument erected by private donations to honor their service, it stopped being funny.
Imagine the Park Service being ordered to behave so despicably and so illegally. The National Park Service is supposed to serve the public, not act as a political arm of the Democratic Party. Further, the federal government is not the owner of the national parks. The federal government is the nominal steward of the national parks who cares for the land for the benefit of the owners—the American people.
The unprecedented concentration of power in the executive branch is a serious problem. President Obama has never quite grasped the nature of the office he holds and how it is different from that of other heads of state. In the absence of anyone who will clearly explain his proper role to him, and the absence of a corrective action short of impeachment which is reserved to the Senate, he does as he pleases. And what he pleases is to act unilaterally across national policy to ignore the role of faithfully carrying out the laws in favor of making law by executive order, regulation or reorganization.
The parks do not have to be closed because of the shutdown, they are closed by the choice of the president who is specifically trying to turn the shutdown of maybe 13 percent of non-essential government activities into a very big deal indeed, and shift the blame for the shutdown to the Republicans. That the Mall is closed to elderly veterans in wheelchairs, and tourists are barred from looking at Mt. Rushmore or the Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone, or at the wonders of the Grand Canyon, is hardly a necessary closure of non-essential services. It’s petty spite from a president who demonstrates his utter contempt for the people of the United States. People are beginning to notice.