Over the course of the 16-day government shutdown, the National Park Service went out of its way to make life as difficult as possible for as many Americans as they could.
War veterans were locked out of their own memorials, sightseeing locations in front of Mount Rushmore were coned off from the public, and even children’s playgrounds were padlocked by the Park Service.
While the Senate was busy forming the final deal to end the government shutdown, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing taking National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis to task about his agency’s absurd treatment of the American people during the government shutdown.
After passionate demands for the specific reasoning behind Jarvis’s decision barricade national memorials, Director Jarvis testified to the effect that the law requiring him to furlough all staff not necessary to defend life and property during the shutdown necessitated that he close all national parks and barricade memorials. In other words, he was just following orders.
Interestingly, less than two years prior, Director Jarvis sat before the same committee to defend his decision to not issue citations or otherwise prosecute the “Occupy Washington” protestors on McPherson Square who trespassed on National Park land for over 100 days.
Jarvis then testified in response that he had discretion in applying the law and spent the 100+ days of the “Occupy” protest trying to “gain compliance” with those breaking the law.
Together, these two testimonies tell one story:
Jonathan Jarvis is a career park ranger. He doesn’t have a complex political agenda; he’s a career bureaucrat who follows the orders of his superiors.
The National Park Service is a federal agency under the authority of the Department of the Interior and President Obama.
When “Occupy” protestors (comprised almost exclusively of liberal Obama supporters) came to Washington with a leftist message, Obama’s National Park Service did nothing. The President’s agenda could be observed as not wanting to make a scene by forcibly removing thousands of his own supporters from their protest.
When the government shut down, the same federal agency decided to make life as difficult for national park visitors as possible. Barricades and playground padlocks were not images of Bill Clinton’s shutdown in 1995; Obama wanted to make a spectacle and make sure Americans immediately felt the effects of a shut down government, lest anyone not notice.
Orders were followed and Obama’s agenda was fulfilled.
Tom Toth is the Social Media Director for Americans for Limited Government.