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October 9, 2013

PARKER: Washington makes a monumental mistake

Losing a hard-fought battle confers no dishonor, but losing a badly chosen battle is embar-rassing.

And then there’s ridiculous.

Into the latter category goes the decision to close the nation’s monuments to make sure the government shutdown strikes the hearts of all The American People.

Then again, ridiculous is perhaps too generous a word. Closing the monuments, especially the World War II Memorial, can be reduced, fittingly, to a single syllable: Dumb.

In more recent history, when a group of World War II veterans recently faced barriers blocking entry to the memorial — an open space requiring not so much as an attendant — these elderly warriors took a page from their Normandy playbook and stormed the barricades.

Among the many reasons the closure was so clumsy, one stands out starkly: It isn’t as though the World War II guys can always come back another day. All are in their late 80s and early 90s and time is of the essence. Moreover, most plan these trips well in advance at considerable expense.

Thanks to the monument liberators, Washington officials were forced to rethink their decision and removed the barriers. The American People are now free to roam their public spaces in remembrance of sacrifices beyond most imaginations.

Optically, symbolically and every other way, this seems too little too late. Shutting out veterans from their memorial touchstone was more than a bad call, a lapse of judgment, a mere moment of tone deafness. In reality, it may have been the tidy effort of a box-checking bureaucrat but it reeked of the small work of a petty bully.

And this is the president who recently declared that The American People are not political pawns to be used to score political points?

While one may sympathize with Obama’s contempt for his congressional adversaries, he may have cut off his own nose with an unforced error of magnified proportions. Spite is unbecoming a president.

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