Shutdown Roundup – Day 3

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President Barack Obama waited ‘til the third day of the government “shutdown” to play the senior citizen card, telling a Maryland audience that, if the partisan standoff over a continuing resolution to fund the government escalates into a stalemate over the debt limit, people won’t get their Social Security checks.

“In a government shutdown, Social Security checks still go out on time. In an economic shutdown — if we don’t raise the debt ceiling — they don’t go out on time,” he said. “In a government shutdown, disability benefits still arrive on time. In an economic shutdown, they don’t.”

Well, that would certainly be devastating to the millions of people who depend on the returns they paid into Social Security in their working lives. But it’s pretty audacious of the President to play to affected seniors and disabled people as though they’re his political ace in the hole.

Whose fault is it really, Mr. President? There’s plenty of evidence out there that public opinion doesn’t favor your role in this whole mess. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was caught on a hot mic Thursday telling Senate colleague Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) he didn’t think Obama had “poll tested” his “we won’t negotiate” strategy, and that it’s damaging Obama’s to Obama’s case, in the court of public opinion, to keep bleating that as a mantra. Hope he’s right.

And a Harvard Law professor even got on NPR (of all places) Thursday to caution that Obama’s brinksmanship is likely to damage the President and his Congressional Democratic support, in the long run, more than it will the vilified Tea Party leaders in the GOP.

A CBS poll released Thursday indeed revealed that 76 percent of voters want Obama to negotiate with Congressional Republicans to end the shutdown, and 78 percent want the GOP to do the same.

More insanity from Day Three:

The New York Times saw no reason to let a good crisis go to waste, jumping on Twitter moments after Thursday’s bizarre Washington, D.C. car chase/shooting to announce an implicit connection between the incident and the ongoing shutdown standoff. Here’s the link.

There’s been a surprising amount of violent rhetoric coming from the Obama camp over the GOP opposition since the shutdown began. Obama himself said the GOP has a “gun to the American people’s head.” Congressman George Miller (D-Calif.) went with “jihad.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told CNN last week that GOP holdouts were “legislative arsonists.” White House Aide Dan Pfeiffer said Republicans are acting like they have a “bomb strapped to their chest.”

“Less than three years ago, on the heels of the deadly shooting in Tucson, Ariz., Mr. Obama now famously called on Americans to use ‘words that heal, not wound,’” noted The Washington Times in a related story. So much for that.

Win or lose, the conservative opposition to Obama’s demand for a “clean” resolution has galvanized the conservative base. That could mean big gains in the 2014 elections for Republicans more likely to stand with Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) than John McCain (R-Ariz.) Here’s a good read from Rare on the topic.

The “shutdown” of government websites has mimicked the White House’s “Washington Monument” strategy of artificially maximizing the effects of the stalemate by needlessly limiting access to government monuments.

Speaking of monuments, the Feds went after Mt. Vernon – George Washington’s home – this morning. The government doesn’t even own that – well, they do half-own the parking lots. The Park Service relented later in the day. Strategic backfires starting to sink in, maybe?

We’re creeping up on a full week – Day Four’s just around the corner.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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