The opening excuse for the failure to compensate the families was the shutdown of the government. Although the President had signed a bill to fund the military, it was unclear if it included the death benefits. Since Department of Defense lawyers could not figure it out, it was referred to the lawyers at the Department of Justice. Their take on the matter was that the death benefits were not covered.
This decision caused a violent firestorm of protest throughout the country. When it became known publicly, an official from the Fisher Foundation stepped forward and offered to loan the government the money to pay the survivors. At first, his offer was accepted but as public pressure against the Administration’s stance grew more vocal, it looked as if the President might sign a bill authored by the House of Representatives. However, as late as Thursday of last week, the President’s Press Agent, Jay Carney, said it was doubtful the President would sign. Conversely, on the very next day, it was announced that Obama had signed the measure.
This was in keeping with the White House’s ability to play “who’s on first” such as Obama did when he usurped Secretary Kerry’s emotional call for a strike against Syria.
An interesting side note to the imbroglio was the fact that Las Vegas multi-millionaire Sheldon Adelson had offered to pick up the $400,000 tab for the survivors with no request for a repayment. His offer was summarily declined in Washington. The fact that Adelson was a major contributor to the campaign of Mitt Romney may have had something to do with this decision.
The firestorm of publicity surrounding the event prompted Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to make his first trip ever to be on hand at the airbase where the bodies were returned. Many of the lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in Washington are calling for the resignation of Hagel because of the manner in which the whole affair was handled.
This is just one example of how the partial shutdown of the government is being dealt with by the Administration in order to inflict the most pain on innocent citizens.
Another outstanding example of this White House’s priority was the closing of the World War II Veterans Memorial in Washington. At the same time that gates were posted in front of the memorial, the plaza area was opened so that a couple of thousand illegal immigrants could gather and voice their support for new immigration laws.
Even the erudite former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, joined the immigrants to congratulate her party’s top executive for being so open and accommodating. Pelosi is most famously remembered for her advocacy of Obamacare when she uttered the famous quote “we have to pass the bill to see what’s in it.” One wonders if she has yet to read the mega-sized bill.
Ironically, to add to the mass confusion that has existed in Washington since the shutdown on Oct. 1, it is interesting to note that the Presidential Golf Course and the Congressional Health Club are still open.
Harry Spencer is a long-time northern Nevada resident.