- - Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pollsters have convinced Democrats that they’ll win the government shutdown fight, so President Obama is doing all he can to create the impression that the republic is in peril because 800,000 nonessential federal employees won’t come to the office today. This insults the intelligence of ordinary Americans who are more concerned that the private economy has been shut down for the past four years.

Exhibit A of the administration’s deceit is the National Park Service’s shabby treatment of World War II veterans. These heroes, their ranks now swiftly fading into the ages, come to the nation’s capital to see their memorial, only to find barricades that the “shutdown” agency went to great expense to erect on Monday — as if the granite, marble and grass must be “staffed” by bureaucrats. Who would steal 10 tons of marble? The barricades and threats of arrest were no match for the generation that faced down the enemy at Guadalcanal, the Cassino and Omaha Beach. The Park Service even barricaded a bus turnaround lane at Mount Vernon, even though George Washington’s estate is privately owned.

Where physical barriers won’t work, the White House gets creative. NASA, the Agriculture Department, the National Park Service, AmeriCorps, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission have deleted information from their public websites. A student looking for the latest photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope on NASA’s page, for example, instead finds propaganda about government funding. It costs more money and requires more effort to find and eliminate information than to leave the website alone.

Democrats think manufactured inconvenience is essential because the government shutdown has been a “non-event” for most Americans. Of the 4.4 million people who get a government payroll check, 82 percent will go to work this morning. The Capitol Police will still make their rounds; members of Congress will be safe. The Secret Service will stand guard at the White House, chasing away tourists. The Army and the Navy (and the Marines) will be paid and Social Security checks are in the mail. For most Americans, the shutdown is no big deal.

The Democrats wailing about the irresponsibility of scaling back a handful of federal functions nevertheless back with enthusiasm a union that threatens to shut down a private business to win better pay or health benefits for its employees. The House Republicans want to preserve current health benefits by preventing Obamacare from taking them away, even at the small cost of disruption.

When members of the Writers Guild put away their computer keyboards for a strike in 2007, leaving America bereft of new episodes of their favorite sitcoms, there was disappointment aplenty. A transit strike brings traffic to gridlock in the big city. But the impact of the budget impasse has been imperceptible beyond the Beltway.

Even the most obvious “victims” are anything but. The 800,000 federal employees who have been furloughed know they’ll get their back pay once a budget deal is signed, so they relax and enjoy an autumn vacation. Republicans should focus on devising a shutdown exit strategy, based on the interests of the millions who have spent the past two years searching in vain for jobs. The economic uncertainty wrought by Obamacare is a far more compelling story than a story of imaginary victims created by Mr. Obama and his funeral chorus.