Friday, October 11, 2013

The Parks! is another Benghazi!

The thing I find most fascinating about the American right is how they stick with a narrative even when no one else believes it and pushing the narrative becomes clearly counterproductive. They did it with Benghazi! The did it with "you didn't build that." And I think they are doing it now with the claim that Obama closed the National Parks.

Just about everyone knows that when the government is shut down, National Parks have to close. Before the shutdown even began, that "closing National Parks" was the consequences of a shut down that commentators regularly brought up. Before October 1st, I saw rightwingers belittle the consequences of a shutdown by suggesting that the only consequences were a few shut down parks.

So then the government shut down and, as everyone predicted, the National Parks close. Cue the wingnut outrage machine! Veterans can't get to their monument! The right threatens to break into shuttered areas controlled by the park service. A Republican Congressman berates a park ranger for enforcing the shutdown that Congressman voted for. House Republicans want to launch an investigation into the closure of monuments in D.C.

None of that stuff works. The public already knows why national parks and monuments are closed. It's because of the government shutdown. And the public believes that the shutdown is the Republican Party's fault.

Which is accurate. The shutdown started when the House passed a continuing resolution to fund the government that cut off funding to the Affordable Care Act. The Senate voted down the resolution. The Senate then passed a version of the continuing resolution with the ACA funding cut stripped out, and sent it back to the House. The Republican House leadership refused to allow that resolution to come to a vote. That is, in fact, why the government shut down. And that is, in fact, why the National Parks and Monuments are closed (no need for further investigation!)

By airing outrage about closures that result from the shutdown in the hopes of tarring the President, the rightwing media is instead tarring itself by highlighting problems that the public believes is the result of Republican intransigence. And yet, even after several days of polls which suggest the strategy isn't working, my conservative keep pushing the same line. There's no sign that anyone is aware that it is not helping their position. There's no self-reflection. No attempt to recalibrate their message. No retreat, reload, like lemmings over a cliff.

As I was drafting this post, a conservative FB friend posted this cartoon:

Note that the cartoon makes no sense unless you already believe that the President is purposely closing the National Parks to inflict pain on the populace and that he is not being forced to close the parks because the Republicans won't pass funding to keep them open. So why post the cartoon? It just makes them look stupid, but there is no awareness of how this looks from the outside.

To put it more simply: The public generally blames Republicans for the shutdown. Highlighting problems caused by the shutdown is going to get the public angry at Republicans, not the President. It makes no sense to keep bringing up "the Parks!" and expect it to help the GOP.