Guy Benson


The White House says it "doesn't matter" to them when the current government shutdown ends, so long as there's some political advantage to be wrung from average people's inconvenience and pain. Just as we saw during the sequestration scare-fest, Team Obama is actively and deliberately trying to inflict as much pain on ordinary people as possible, hoping to stoke public outrage at Republicans over the impasse. They're soliciting sob stories on the White House website -- paid for by taxpayers, by the way -- meaning that "essential" executive staffers who haven't been furloughed are being tasked with culling through personal anecdotes Obama can exploit for political gain. The Washington Times surveys the administration's tactics, eliciting a money quote from a frustrated park ranger:


The Park Service appears to be closing streets on mere whim and caprice. The rangers even closed the parking lot at Mount Vernon, where the plantation home of George Washington is a favorite tourist destination. That was after they barred the new World War II Memorial on the Mall to veterans of World War II. But the government does not own Mount Vernon; it is privately owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association. The ladies bought it years ago to preserve it as a national memorial. The feds closed access to the parking lots this week, even though the lots are jointly owned with the Mount Vernon ladies. The rangers are from the government, and they’re only here to help. “It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation,” an angry Park Service ranger in Washington says of the harassment. “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”


House Republicans plan to step up their efforts to restore funding to various federal programs on a piecemeal basis, and the White House has already issued pre-emptive veto threats against each and every legislative item. Remember, Obama's people are admitting to reporters that they don't care when the shutdown ends, since they think they're winning the political argument. While many media outlets are harping on divisions within Republican ranks (and there are plenty), the press has stayed rather tight-lipped about the dozens of Democratic defections on GOP-sponsored government funding initiatives:


Fifty-seven House Democrats have broken ranks with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer to vote with Republicans to fund parts of the government like veterans programs, national parks and the National Institutes of Health. Sixteen of those Democrats voted for all six targeted appropriations bills, introduced at the behest of House Speaker John Boehner, including measures to fund the National Guard and Reserve, NIH, national parks, the District of Columbia and two separate votes for veterans programs. (The House of Representatives voted twice to restore funding for veterans programs, once Oct. 1 and a second time Oct. 3.)


Are these Democrats "anarchists" and "terrorists," too? Or must we ignore their votes because...Republicans. Shut up. Now Harry Reid's running around calling Boehner a "coward," leading to a phony Twitter mop-up:



Sure, Harry. Do you also suddenly believe that Mitt Romney is an exemplary Mormon, who's always been a law-abiding taxpayer? Or do you just say whatever the hell you want to say, at any given moment? What a fraud. I'll leave you with two assessments of President Obama's influence and leadership: First, Operation Spook the Markets fell flat on its face in Friday trading. People don't put much stock in the guy's words anymore. (And why should they)?


Washington's efforts to scare Wall Street haven't come to much so far. The message hardly could be clearer from the Obama administration: An impasse over approving a continuing resolution that would keep government going threatens to morph into a crippling battle over the debt ceiling. Wall Street should be petrified of such an occurrence and is taking the looming crisis too lightly, President Barack Obama told CNBC in an interview Wednesday. Markets haven't bitten, however. Stocks have been a mixed bag this week, with the Dow industrials and S&P 500 creeping lower and the Nasdaq higher. Perhaps more importantly, however, bonds have barely budged.


Finally, a quote from a veteran New York Times reporter, within the context of how this president treats the press: "Sanger, who has worked for the Times in Washington for two decades, said, 'This is most closed, control-freak administration I’ve ever covered.'”


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography