Jonah Goldberg

Last week I wrote a column accusing the president of having a vindictive streak -- of deliberately trying to make the lives of average Americans worse just so he could score ideological and political points.

We already knew from how he handled the budget sequester that Obama liked this approach. He ordered Cabinet secretaries not to do their jobs -- i.e., to manage as best they could under spending restraints -- but instead to find ways to make the cuts needlessly painful for innocents caught in the Beltway crossfire.

They dusted off the same playbook for the shutdown. As one park ranger told the Washington Times, "We've been told to make life as difficult for people as we can."

Admittedly, the case was circumstantial. There was no smoking gun. What was really needed was a confession.

Obama delivered. On Oct. 8, Obama was asked by Mark Knoller of CBS if he was "tempted" to sign the numerous funding bills passed by the GOP-controlled House that would greatly alleviate the pain of the shutdown. Republicans have voted to reopen parks, fund cancer trials for children at the NIH, and to keep FEMA and the FDA going through this partial shutdown. But Obama has threatened to veto any such efforts, effectively keeping the Senate from considering the legislation.

"Of course I'm tempted" to sign those bills, Obama explained. "But here's the problem. What you've seen are bills that come up wherever Republicans are feeling political pressure, they put a bill forward. And if there's no political heat, if there's no television story on it, then nothing happens."

Obama's answer dragged on, as all of Obama's answers do. But the point was made. For the first time in American history, a president confessed to deliberately hurting his country to score points against his enemies.

Which brings us to the national disgrace this week in which the Department of Defense denied death benefits to the families of fallen service members.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney insists, with operatic righteousness, that Obama never intended for the 26 families of the fallen to be denied this aid or to be hindered from retrieving their beloveds' remains from Dover Air Force Base.

But Carney is surely lying -- and the evidence isn't simply that his lips are moving.

Carney defends the administration by noting that the Pentagon warned Congress in late September that the shutdown would prevent the payments from going out.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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