Much has been written about that ridiculous rally held Sunday by Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz, the one where they took the barricades from the WW II memorial and dumped them at the White House. What you may have missed is that our old pal Larry Klayman also spoke at that rally, proving that you’re never too extreme for the right wing. He offered up his usual pack of lies.
It’s amusing to me to listen to the yokels shouting their approval of his idiocy as he compares himself to Martin Luther King and and calls for the “non-violent” overthrow of Obama. But it highlights just how ridiculous our politics has become that the one thing that the right is focusing on in the shutdown is the closure of war memorials. Not the people who can’t get their medications from the NIH (one of my best friends had to break the law to get her chemo treatments the last two weeks as part of an NIH clinical trial, something more people in her situation would be unable to do), but irrelevancies like memorials. Conor Friedersdorf has the same problem with that focus.
But part of me can’t help but read about the rally at the World War II Memorial and think, “To hell with you, conservative activists. This perfectly illustrates your uselessness.” I don’t just mean that, but for the useless government shutdown that Tea Party Republicans provoked, the World War II Memorial would be open.
What actually bothers me most about this little rally is what it says about the priorities of Tea Party leaders like Cruz and Sarah Palin, and the rank-and-file conservative activists who trudged out to the World War II Memorial to protest its closure. They speak the language of liberty in expressing outrage at the metal barricades, insisting that it’s an insult to soldiers who risked their lives to beat the fascists.
Meanwhile, the Veterans Affairs Department has furloughed almost 8,000 employees (half are veterans). Its backlog of disability applications has been increasing for the duration. “The Pentagon says it no longer has authority to pay death gratuities—which is typically a cash payment of $100,000—to the survivors of servicemembers killed in action,” CBS reported last week. (Since then, Congress has passed and President Obama has signed a bill reinstating the benefit). And even when the federal government is functioning normally, it fails to adequately care for the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, who are suffering from high rates of suicide, PTSD, and joblessness, in large part due to the wars of choice they were asked to fight and that conservatives, who are still allied with a faction of haws urging even more wars of choice, overwhelmingly backed…
What I think, when I see that memorial closures are the thing that gets conservatives in the streets, is that movement leaders and rank-and-file activists alike cannot be counted on to identify and take on the most serious issues facing veterans, or the most serious threats to liberty. Instead they spend their time seizing on symbolic issues that promise to result in the best optics for a given news cycle—World War II veterans traveled to Washington and can’t visit the memorial dedicated to them! Think what victory would mean in this instance: The barricades would come down, which will happen anyway as soon as the government reopens. In other words, there’s no substantive upside for this particular rally, whether you’re concerned about benefitting veterans or safeguarding liberty. It was held so that Cruz and Palin could aggrandize themselves, so that conservatives could revel in their self-image as liberty loving patriots who honor veterans, and so that the Obama Administration would look bad. Protests are nothing more than political theater for these people. Or if they actually intend to effect change, their strategy verges on nonsensical.
Bingo. It’s all about posturing, not substance. And when you involve people like Larry Klayman, you’re showing that you simply don’t care how extreme or inane your allies are as long as they hate Obama too.