President: Keep an eye out for morons

John Kass / Chicago Tribune /


President Barack Obama obviously has a lot on his mind.

His angry Democrats are fighting those angry Republicans over the so-called government shutdown. It’s not really a shutdown, even though the rhetoric suggests that the sky is falling and the seas are about to give up the dead. This is the 18th time it’s happened since the 1970s, and the republic still stands.

This hasn’t calmed our politicians, who are shrieking like hundreds of dying cats under the porch.

But if the president can just carve out a few seconds of quiet time, he should really think about sending out a team to do some hunting.

Some moron hunting.

Morons may be few in number, but they can be extremely dangerous during times of political controversy. All it takes is a few morons in a president’s administration to ruin a carefully scripted public relations battle. Especially that unidentified moron who decided the other day that he or she had a great idea: Put up a barricade and a few guards at the World War II Memorial in Washington, tell veterans groups that it was closed and pin it on the Republicans.

Unfortunately for the president, the moron has disappeared. Yes, perhaps it’s unfair, but the president gets blamed for this, for overplaying his hand.

You don’t need a public relations consultant to explain the strategy: Someone reasoned that the veterans would be upset at the closed memorial and the media (which generally support the big-government establishment) would carry the water and put further heat on Obama’s political foes. But it didn’t turn out that way.

On Tuesday, Honor Flight groups honoring the veterans showed up at the WWII Memorial. The vets looked at the signs that told them the memorial was closed, and they didn’t follow government orders.

They just pushed their way through. Old men in wheelchairs, some using canes, some whip-thin and upright, with their families and their wives, just walked past the “closed” signs. No matter which side of this you’re on, you can figure out what came next.

The Republicans seized the advantage, just as the Democrats would have done.

“Some idiot in government sent goons out there to set up barricades so they couldn’t see the monument,” said Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican. He said “idiot,” but “moron” will do just as well.

By Wednesday, members of another Honor Flight group from Chicago were concerned that the White House would ban them as well. Sen. Mark Kirk, the Illinois Republican and a retired naval intelligence officer, vowed to lead them through. News crews gathered for the story.

“I think it’s shameful,” said Mary Pettinato, CEO and co-founder of Honor Flight Chicago. “It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you’re on, it’s shameful and shouldn’t happen, that men and women that we should be honoring most have to be able to fight to see the memorial we built for them.”

The White House must have sent out an emergency call because there at the World War II Memorial, Democrats enthusiastically showed up with Republicans to make sure the veterans were allowed in.

There was Kirk and Sen. Dick Durbin, the Illinois Democrat, and other congresscreatures and so on. I half expected Durbin to carry a few veterans on his back for a photo op.

“Thankfully, we were not blockaded,” Pettinato told us. “The only blockade we had were the politicians. ... It’s just an awesome day.”

Most of the old veterans didn’t play partisan politics with the issue.

“To me it’s just like a bunch of little kids fighting over candy,” George Atkinson, 82, of Nevada, Iowa, said of the politicians. “The whole group ought to be replaced, top man down.”

Especially that moron who ordered the barricades, whoever he or she is.