As the Wall Street Journal's Allison Prang reports:
Veterans again visited the closed World War II Memorial, this time joined by lawmakers, at a site that is becoming one of the central symbols of the government shutdown.
The closure of the memorial — thanks to the images of elderly veterans disregarding the shutdown to enter the memorial on Tuesday — has captured the attention of Congress. Many lawmakers have publicly backed the veterans, and made trips to the memorial Wednesday.
“I’m here to support the veterans,” said Rep. Doug Lamborn (R., Colo.), calling the yellow caution tape and barricades at the memorial “truly over the top.”
— Allison Prang (@AllisonPrang) October 2, 2013
Hearing about Rep. Doug Lamborn's visit yesterday to the site of the World War II Memorial on the National Mall (which has since sort of re-opened) to "support the veterans" visiting the monument during the government shutdown, Colorado Democratic Party chairman Rick Palacio felt obliged to respond.
"While Doug Lamborn was elected to represent the people of El Paso County, he has instead spent his time and energy representing the most extreme wing of the GOP," Palacio said
"Colorado Springs is the city most affected by this Republican shutdown, and has some of the highest numbers of active duty service members, veterans and federal workers of any Congressional district in our nation. A responsible elected official for a district like this would do anything within their power to avoid a shutdown, yet Doug Lamborn has advocated for it.
"Today, Lamborn was shameless enough to stand in front of a group of our nation's veterans at the WWII memorial and tried to shift responsibility to anyone but himself.
"Doug Lamborn should be as embarrassed of his disgraceful behavior as the people of Colorado are at his representation."
With the shutdown of the federal government now in its third day, the narrative of responsibility for the situation, and unpleasant effects like the closure of national parks and monuments, is pretty well set. Public polling overwhelmingly blames Republicans for the shutdown, and just as overwhelmingly says a shutdown isn't the right way to oppose legislation passed three years ago. Much like the contrived photo of Republicans sitting across from prop empty chairs, the public just isn't buying the idea that Republicans are the good guys in this fight. Most Americans, even those who support what the GOP is doing, do understand that the shutdown is a strategy deliberately chosen by conservatives to compel the Obama administration to delay or even scuttle health care reform. It quite logically follows that the effects of the shutdown House Republicans, including all four GOP representatives from Colorado, have forced are their fault. It's not a partisan judgment call, it's simple logic, and if Republicans weren't willing to own those consequences, they shouldn't have chosen this strategy.
The latest talking point in circulation suggests that the administration is "maximizing the pain" by closing the parks and monuments, but you can't plausibly argue that parks and monuments are an "essential" function of government. Believe us, we and the entire population of Estes Park, Colorado wishes that weren't so.
On a certain level, though, you can't blame Lamborn, Michele Bachmann, and the other Republicans grandstanding at the World War II Memorial for doing what they can to reverse this now-set narrative. In the last government shutdown of 1995-96, parks and monuments also closed, and that became a major headache for congressional Republicans–who, like today, were overwhelmingly blamed for what the public considered to be a needless tantrum. With all that in mind, Lamborn probably should be apologizing to those Honor Flight World War II veterans for the inconvenience.
But that, of course, is not going to happen.