Americans looking to voice displeasure over the government shutdown should prepare to project their screams into the void.
Typically, the White House has a dedicated line for receiving constituent comments. But as of Monday morning, the White House isn’t taking comments. In fact, the White House has a comment for you.
Usually, the automated answering machine provides basic information about tours, and prompts callers to leave a voicemail regarding their political concerns. But a new recorded message that callers hear after dialing 202-456-1111 doesn’t include an option for callers to record a comment.
The change comes after a week of political hot potato, as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and President Trump jostled for position to pin the shutdown on each other. Thus far, the communications battle has been mostly consigned to public statements and warring hashtags. Is it a #TrumpShutdown or a #SchumerShutdown? Now, the Whitehouse is now offering its own opinion:
“Thank you for calling the White House. Unfortunately, we cannot answer your call today, because congressional Democrats are holding government funding, including funding for our troops and other national security priorities, hostage to an unrelated immigration debate. Due to this obstruction, the government is shut down. In the meantime, you can leave a comment for the president at www.whitehouse.gov/contact. We look forward to taking your calls as soon as the government reopens.”
Considering the PR tactics embraced by the Trump Administration, the recorded message isn’t a particularly surprising development. And from their side, it’s likely been a successful gambit. Sure, (half of) Twitter is all atwitter about the lack of presidential decorum. But the message’s snark grabbed another morning news-cycle, and reiterated the President’s perpetual mantra: “This isn’t my fault.”
From a practical standpoint, there is a work-around to the closed comment line. Concerned citizens can still file comments via email, so the effect of the closure is likely negligible. Still, it’s a bit frustrating to see the White House transform a resource that measures public opinion into an outlet for their agenda.
Here’s the salty voicemail greeting: