Paul Greenberg

A single scene at the World War II Memorial in Washington last Sunday summed up the whole, disgraceful spectacle that is the Great Shutdown of 2013.

Instead of storming beaches, our veterans had to storm their own war memorial in order to get in. If that isn't enough to shame the feckless politicians in the nation's capital, nothing will. And it won't. Because they have no shame. They're politicians.

At this point our pols seem a lot more interested in blaming the opposition for this continuing outrage than doing anything meaningful to end it. Result: Between our two "great" national parties, there's more than enough blame to go around.

Last week the Veterans Administration shuttered its regional offices, furloughing some 7,000 employees nationally. After all, these regional offices only serve those Americans who donned the uniform of their country to fight for all of us. Their rights are expendable. They've been reduced to just chess pieces in this latest Washington game.

Don't worry. The word is that the Veterans Administration has a list of veterans who'll get first call on benefits if this shutdown lasts much longer, with groups like Medal of Honor recipients and former prisoners of war getting priority. And the White House has now announced that a private charity -- the Fisher House Foundation -- has volunteered to pay death benefits for the five American soldiers just killed in Afghanistan.

What a comfort. Our veterans risked everything for their country, and now the commander-in-chief of the country's armed forces seems to think that, in this emergency, their families ought to subsist on charity.

Can this be happening in America?

There are no words.

The feds are playing this game all over the map. One after the other national landmarks are closed off. That includes Ford's Theatre, too. No more tours or tour guides. Mr. Lincoln's ghost will have to wander its halls as unguarded as he was on that fateful night. But, what th' heck, wasn't he a Republican too? That'll teach him.

The Republican speaker of the House, rolling out his practiced outraged, claims "this is no damn game." But he's got to know just what kind of damn game is being played here. Since his party is losing the battle for public opinion, he doesn't like the way it's being played. It's a common enough reaction -- on the playground and in the nation's capital. (Any similarity between the two is no coincidence.)

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.