Leave it to the Washington Post to spin the closure of White House tours by the Obama Administration as a lesson in civics and democracy. In Saturday’s edition, a story ran titled “In canceled White House tours, a civics lesson: Disappointed tourists help administration show sequester’s pain.”
The online version of the article was titled “With canceled tours, White House teaching how democracy works.”
The author of the piece, David Nakamura, wrote:
The White House tour is a civics lesson on American democracy. And starting Saturday, when 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. shuts its doors to the public, that lesson will focus on the dysfunctional state of the union.
Nakamura claimed that the closure was the Obama Administration’s contribution to help the nation recover from the budget cuts of sequestration. A noble gesture, apparently.
How was the GOP’s response to the closure portrayed?
Republicans have pounced, questioning why the Obama administration is ending the free, self-guided visits to a building that ultimately belongs to taxpayers… Conservatives piled on in an effort to embarrass the president.
Nakamura quotes the Secret Service asserting that closing the tour would save $74,000 in weekly overtime costs but managed to avoid quoting ABC’s Jonathan Karl, who estimated the weekly tour cost at $18,000.
In addition, he uses phrases like this: “The feud provides little solace to those whose White House tickets are now worthless.” The tickets are actually free.
Deputy White House spokesman Josh Earnest intoned, “The White House has a unique place as both the seat of government, the residence of the leader of the country, but also a museum. And it is a shame that, because of the sequester, those tours will no longer take place.
Interstingly, Capitol Hill is still open, and the offices of legislators in Congress, where White House Tour tickets were offered, took pains to remind their constituents of that fact.
GOP Congressmen lambasted Obama for his decision; Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA), wanted to know if media stars who backed Obama, such as Jay-Z and Beyoncé, would be shut out of a tour, too. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) added an amendment to a spending bill that would ban Obama from golfing at taxpayer expense until the tours are opened again.