WASHINGTON -- If you follow any Republican lawmakers on social media, you may have noticed a popular theme on Wednesday: Blame President Barack Obama for the negative effects of the government shutdown, which began earlier this week after Republicans in the House refused to pass a federal budget that didn't also defund the Affordable Care Act.
The GOP's coordinated effort to shift blame for the shutdown began at the National Mall's World War II Memorial on Tuesday, just hours after 40 percent of government employees -- around 800,000 workers -- were placed on indefinite, unpaid furlough, and vast pieces of the government, including national parks and monuments, were closed to the public.
Rather than zero in on the missed paychecks for nearly a million workers or a myriad of other impacts, the same Republicans who earlier appeared gleeful at the prospect of a government shutdown seized upon a chance to paint themselves as heroes who would make sure military veterans could enter the memorial they had helped shutter.
The GOP's shutdown amnesia reached a fever pitch on Wednesday, when some honorables returned to the memorial and renewed attempts to deflect public blame for a shutdown that had forced the National Institutes of Health to suspend clinical trials for cancer patients, and nearly denied World War II veterans access to their memorial. With a series of piecemeal funding bills, Republicans hoped they could selectively edit those storylines out of the broader shutdown picture. When Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama refused to play ball, demanding a clean funding bill to reopen the entire government, Republicans used the gambit to accuse them of being indifferent to military veterans and children with cancer.
— Mike Pompeo (@RepMikePompeo) October 2, 2013
All told, it's a brazen attempt at damage control by Republicans faced with a spiraling message problem. First, the GOP told Americans a shutdown wouldn't really hurt them, and could save them from the greater menace, Obamacare -- a law still hated by Republicans more than three years after it was passed, and 15 months after it was upheld by the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, however, it became clear that the shutdown was affecting millions of people, including -- as Republicans have realized -- sick children and WWII veterans.