A group of Texas congressmen armed with wire cutters made their way to the World War II Memorial in Washington after they learned the National Park Service had reinforced the barriers blocking the site with wire.
“This is Chicago thuggery,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) told me. “The president is trying to inflict the most amount of pain and suffering. This is not some bureaucratic mistake. This is Chicago thuggery. You try to make people hurt so they don’t resist what you tell them to do in the future.”
The World War II memorial on the National Mall has become a symbol of the shutdown of the federal government. Earlier this week the National Park Service closed the memorial and erected barriers. Republican lawmakers moved those barricades so that elderly war veterans could access the site.
The National Park Service made something of a compromise. The memorial has been reopened to veterans but not to average Americans. Nevertheless, sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning, the barriers were replaced and reinforced with wire.
“It’s an open-air sidewalk for goodness sake,” Gohmert said. “It’s ridiculous.”
And when a group of Texas war veterans arrived Friday to see their memorial, several members of the Texas congressional delegation grabbed some wire cutters and made their way to the National Mall.
“I was ready to go to jail,” said Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX). “If they got the handcuffs out, I’d have gone right with them.”
Hall is 90 years old and flew for the Navy during World War II.
“These veterans made great sacrifice for their country a long time ago and they traveled a lot of miles to get here,” the veteran lawmaker told me. “It’s our memorial.”
He has served the Lone Star State in Congress for 30 years – and takes pride in his 99 percent voting record. But how did Hall happen to have a pair of wire cutters?
“We have a little bit of everything in this office here,” he said.
It turned out the lawmakers didn’t need their wire cutters, after all. The wires had been cut by the time they had arrived.
“They are truly trying to inflict a maximum amount of pain because they believe the Republicans will pay a price,” Gohmert told me.
And he also had a special message for President Obama:
“The hissy fit is going to have to end,” he said.