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Closure of White House is political posturing

March 9, 2013
By Matthew Burdette - Executive editor ( , The Inter-Mountain

If you're traveling to our nation's capital today - or in the near future - you'll notice one big change among tourist destinations: The White House is now completely closed to the public.

Citing sequester spending cuts, President Barack Obama has shuttered the 220-year-old Neoclassical-style icon to outsiders until a solution to the nation's money woes can be hammered out in Congress.

Although this might not seem like a major setback for everyday Americans, it is just one more chink in the armor for our country's - and our president's - overall image.

Since construction of the White House was completed, the public has had complete access to the building and its ground. Sometimes, though, access has been too great, as demonstrated by job seekers who hounded then-President Abraham Lincoln relentlessly for a position in his administration. Despite that, the public's access continued.

That is, until the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The White House temporarily closed, not allowing access to outsiders or public tours until 2003. Since then, it has has been possible to gain a glimpse of the inner-workings of the Executive Office Mansion through guided tours prearranged through U.S. embassies and congressional representatives.

No more, though. And, even if the sequester spending cuts are remedied, the doors at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. will likely remain closed forever.

Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the closure is that stopping daily tours will not save all that much money. With the government facing $85 billion in spending cuts, the paltry wage paid to tour guides to usher citizens through the halls of the White House is but a thimble full of water dipped from an ocean of debt and overspending.

The real cost of the closure is the negative public perception, both here and abroad. The public relations nightmare of locking down the White House to tours takes much more of a toll on President Obama than the potential minuscule gains he will garner from the move.

This entire fiasco comes down to political grandstanding. President Obama is trying to shift the blame over the sequester cuts to the Republicans, and this is just one possible move he can make in this political chess match.

What's really needed to settle the sequester problem is a true bipartisan effort with compromise on both sides of the aisle.

The White House is not just the president's home and the seat of power for this great nation. Indeed, it is the true home of each and every American and a worldwide symbol of the merits of freedom and democracy.

The president has done a tremendous disservice to this country by closing the doors of the White House. He should think twice about about this and stop the political wrangling.



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