Here at NewsBusters, we usually ignore commentary and op-ed pieces because there is no pretense that such items are objective news reports. But from time to time we come across something so egregious, so over-the-top, that it merits exposure and derision. Such is the case with Roger Simon's latest screed in Politico, "Save the sequester, crush the children!" which cranks the crazy up to 11 right out of the gate.
"If American politics has but one purpose in modern times, it is to crush the hopes and dreams of young people everywhere," Simon opened melodramatically, "And this is why President Barack Obama’s closing of the White House to public tours makes so much sense." The Politico opinion writer groused that the tour cancelation was a way to "[bring] the problem "home" to ordinary Americans who caused the sequester crisis in the first place." Only, in truth, "Ordinary Americans did not cause the sequester crisis in any way, shape or form," Simon added, before launching into a dizzying screed that blamed congressional Republicans as much as the president, if not more so, for the sequester:
As the president said on Feb. 28 regarding the sequester cuts, “We can’t keep lurching from one manufactured crisis to another.”
The sequester is a manufactured crisis. It is entirely political, which is to say, it is not necessary.
It has been manufactured because Democrats and Republicans need crises to show how the other side is incapable of dealing with crises. This is the opposite of the ancient art of “compromise” in which both sides placed country ahead of party.
Today, the world “compromise” is considered the same as “appeasement.” It is weak, pathetic and for sissies who lack the gumption to paralyze America.
Some argue that the actual impact of sequester will be so puny that most people will not notice it and that it will become the new normal.
But I think we are paying a price.
Past generations of American children have said, “Gosh, President Kennedy just created the Peace Corps. I think I will devote my life to public service and help the people of the world.”
What can our children today say?
“Ma, you said we could visit the White House; you promised!” the moppets will wail, tears streaming down their faces. “And now it is shut down and life stinks, and I think I will grow up and manufacture methamphetamine for a living.”
Parents will respond the only way they can: “If you stop crying, we’ll take you to McDonald’s for some really unhealthy portions of fat, salt and sugar served to you by minimum-wage workers, who will show you what your life will be like in the future.”
“Yay,” the moppets will respond.
But is this good for America? No.
If we are going to close the people’s house to the people, let’s close it down entirely. The president has a perfectly good house in Chicago. His staff could stay at a Motel 6, and the press corps could find public housing.
And let’s close Congress. Force the members to go home and have daily town halls so they can hear what the people really think of them.
I have a feeling it would make for a short sequester.
Of course, we have three branches of government affected by the sequester, but only one has shut down its principal building to tours. The U.S. Capitol -- note to Simon, it's the U.S. House of Representatives that is nicknamed "The People's House -- is still conducting tours, ditto with the U.S. Supreme Court. The Library of Congress, also a strong tourist draw in Washington and one under the auspices of the legislative branch, is conducting tours as normal as well.
[What's more, there are plenty of interesting places that tourists to Washington can visit, some of which are not overused tourist traps. Among them I would highly recommend Lincoln's summer cottage -- where he worked on the Emancipation Proclamation in the summer of 1862 -- which is in Northwest D.C. just off of North Capitol Street. President Lincoln's cottage is maintained by the private, non-for-profit National Trust for Historic Preservation and unaffected by sequester cutbacks.]
If the other two branches of government can manage to keep tours going during the sequester, surely it's not impossible for the president to make the same possible for the White House. But then, why should Simon focus on President Obama's unwillingness to fix such a minor problem completely within his power when it would spoil the chance to grouse about Republicans in Congress?