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Roger Simon: Nothing noble about shutting down White House tours

6th grade students St. Paul's Lutheran School Waverly Iowpose for phoMarch 6 2013. The class had their upcoming visit canceled

6th grade students at St. Paul's Lutheran School in Waverly, Iowa, pose for a photo on March 6, 2013. The class had their upcoming visit canceled as the White House suspended all tours under across-the-board government spending cuts in a partisan budget b

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Updated: April 14, 2013 6:33AM



If American politics has but one purpose in modern times, it is to crush the hopes and dreams of young people everywhere.

And this is why President Barack Obama’s closing of the White House to public tours makes so much sense.

He is in the middle of a sequester battle in which he and Congress must cut spending by $85.4 billion.

And what better way to do this than by keeping a few thousand schoolchildren from experiencing their nation’s heritage and being instilled with a sense of public pride and purpose?

On Friday, a reporter asked during the daily White House press briefing: “What is the president’s message to all of the people who are going to be disappointed, frustrated and upset this weekend that they are not going to be able to have a tour of the White House — the people’s house?”

Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest had been briefed carefully in advance for this question. All White House briefers are briefed carefully in advance for briefings at a cost of probably what it takes to conduct White House tours.

Earnest said that it was a “shame” that the “people who come to the White House on a yearly basis to tour” would get stiffed, but that “the people that the president is most concerned about, though, are the 750,000 Americans who stand to lose their job . . . as a result of the sequester.”

But this is like your mother telling you that you had to eat your lima beans because children were starving in China. If I ate my lima beans, would children in China (who today are very healthy and hacking into our computers) not starve? And will discontinuing White House tours somehow save 750,000 jobs?

Or would we do better by delaying the building of the new Gerald R. Ford class aircraft carriers that clock in at a cool $9 billion or so apiece? (This does not include the cost of the guided missile cruisers, guided missile destroyers, attack submarines and ammunition-supply ships needed to keep each aircraft carrier afloat.)

I am not for gutting the military. Certain defense spending is necessary. Keeping drones circling over Rand Paul’s head 24 hours a day is a public service that could benefit all Americans.

But ending tours brings the problem “home” to ordinary Americans who caused the sequester crisis in the first place.

No, wait. Ordinary Americans did not cause the sequester crisis in any way, shape or form.

The sequester is a manufactured crisis. It is entirely political, which is to say, it is not necessary. It has been manufactured because Democrats and Republicans need crises to show how the other side is incapable of dealing with crises.

Today, the world “compromise” is considered the same as “appeasement.” It is weak, pathetic and for sissies who lack the gumption to paralyze America.

Past generations of American children have said: “Gosh, President Kennedy just created the Peace Corps. I think I will devote my life to public service and help the people of the world.”

What can our children today say?

“Ma, you said we could visit the White House! You promised!” the moppets will wail, tears streaming down their faces. “And now it is shut down and life stinks, and I think I will grow up and manufacture methamphetamines for a living.”

Parents will respond the only way they can: “If you stop crying, we’ll take you to McDonald’s for some really unhealthy portions of fat, salt and sugar served to you by minimum-wage workers, who will show you what your life will be like in the future.”

If we are going to close the people’s house to the people, let’s close it down entirely. The president has a perfectly good house in Chicago. His staff could stay at a Motel 6, and the press corps could find public housing.

And let’s close Congress. Force the members to go home and have daily town halls so they can hear what the people really think of them. I have a feeling it would make for a short sequester.



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