In e-mail a couple of you wondered why I didn’t participate in Shutdown-mania last week, while all the cool kids were kvetching about it and explaining why it would be a politically horrible event for [insert whichever politician and/or party they liked the least], and everything would be terrible and there would be babies eaten and kittens set on fire, etc.
Here’s why. You know when you’re at a club, or in high school, and you see two douchebags with their douchebag entourages, and the douchebags look like they’re going to get into it, and their entourages are egging them on, so they start taunting each other, and then maybe there’s a shove or two, and then a couple of the more sensible friends in either entourage make a show of restraining their pals and nothing much actually happens?
Yes, well. When douchebags start taunting and shoving, the point is not to actually get into a fight, the point is to make a sufficient show for the douchebag entourages so that when the sensible friends intervene, everyone can walk away thinking that their side won the exchange. You can’t walk away before the shoving happens, because then everyone knows you’ve lost, and then there goes your entourage. So: Taunt, shove, restrain, everyone “wins.”
Welcome to shutdown 2011.
And, I don’t know. I just didn’t have much interest in the posture theater this time around. At most I was mildly interested to see whether the “sensible friends” would act in this scenario, since the last time this happened in Congress — you’ll recall 1995’s shutdown, no doubt — the sensible friends on the GOP side forgot to intervene, and their appointed posturing douchebag leader that time around, Newt Gingrich, either got sucker-punched by Bill Clinton or ended up sucker-punching himself (depending on who’s telling the story). But I was only mildly interested because John Boehner, bless his heart, isn’t Newt Gingrich. I imagine he was delighted to have been restrained at the end.
I do think it’s ridiculous that we had to have this sort of posture theater, but that’s the way of the political landscape at the moment, so, fine, folks, have your fun. But at the end of the day (the very end of it, in this case), everyone walked away from a stupid fight being able to claim “victory” in one way or another. Nice for them, I suppose. A better victory would be a government with elected officials who don’t feel required to act like douchebags in a club, or in high school. Something for us all to keep in mind the next time elections roll around.