Decades ago, Mike Kelley was fighting a war against communist tyrants in the jungles of Vietnam. Fortunately, Kelley was able to escape that war with his life -- something more than 50,000 other American service members were not able to do. Last weekend, however, Kelley once again found himself side-by-side with hundreds of other veterans, in the newest front in the war for freedom. This time, though, the battle did not take place in thick jungle or dry desert, but on the streets of our nation’s capital.
Kelley, a resident of Grand Lake, Oklahoma, made the trip to Washington, D.C. to take part in the “Million Veteran March,” which was organized to protest the Obama Administration’s decision to close the nation’s historic landmarks, including the many war memorials spread around the City. “I saw WWII veterans not being able to get in their memorial,” Kelley told The Grove Sun. “I got angry and frustrated and said, ‘I'm going.’”
Kelley’s frustration reflects a sentiment growing among millions of Americans, especially veterans, as the government “shutdown” continues – the result of Obama’s refusal to negotiate with members of Congress on budget matters, or on changes to his beloved “ObamaCare.” Over the weekend, even as Kelley and other veterans moved aside barricades placed by the National Park Service designed to keep citizens from visiting the Capital’s open-air memorials, Obama rejected yet another budget deal from House Republicans that would have ended the shutdown.
Obama, however, did find time to order riot police -- armed with steel batons and handcuffs -- to greet the peacefully protesting veterans. It was a scene reflective of the 1930s, when military veterans marched on the nation’s capital to demand wartime bonuses owed to them for their service in the First World War. Obama’s show of force was something not employed even when the hooligans of the “Occupy DC” movement tried to hold the city hostage two years ago – a movement actually praised at the time by Obama and his sidekick, Vice President Joe Biden.
The use of riot police to confront peaceful veterans and Tea Party demonstrators is the latest evidence of the widening gulf between Barack Obama and the American public. As the shutdown now extends into a third week, there is a growing divide between what Obama and his supporters stand for, and what the rest of America believes. It is a disconnect as wide as it is deep; and it portends a troubling future.