For the Obama administration, the shutdown is just one more political crisis it won’t let go to waste.
Take the park rangers who last week locked under armed guard a group of senior citizens that included visitors from Japan, Australia, Canada and the U.S. inside Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park. Gordon Hodgson, the guide of the 41-person tour group, told the Livingston, Montana Enterprise that officials told him they could stay at the hotel but could not do anything.
“All we could do was eat dinner in the dining room. It was like a ghost town,” he said.
A member of Hodgson’s group, Pat Vaillancourt, told her hometown paper the Newburyport News that, “They (the rangers) looked like Hulk Hogans, armed. They told us you can’t go outside.” She added that some of the foreign visitors with limited English were afraid and thought they were being arrested and that “A lot of people who were foreign said they wouldn’t come back (to America).”
Barricades surrounded Old Faithful and the group was not even allowed to photograph bison as “recreating” was not allowed, according to an armed ranger who ordered the tour back onto their bus. Hodgson, the guide, called the behavior of the rangers “Gestapo tactics.” He added, “We paid a lot to get in. All these people wanted to do was take some pictures.”
And then there is the widely reported story about the National Parks Service barricading the open air monuments at the National Mall in Washington. That decision forced elderly World War II veterans who had traveled hundreds of miles to visit the memorial honoring their service to find a way around them.
Employees of the Parks Service even removed handles on well pumps along the C&O Canal towpath that runs 184 miles from Washington to Cumberland, Maryland, preventing bikers from getting water, according to a report last week in The Cumberland Times-News.