I must rise to differ with the distinguished Charles Krauthammer.
You may have noticed that I have been remarkably silent about the government shutdown shenanigans. This is not because I have nothing to say — indeed, every day that passes without government, I feel that Great Society ache in my bones lightening. And the crick in my neck is almost entirely gone.
You know that I jest. Only about seventeen percent of the government has shut down — and the more innocent part. In the genius that marks Washington, whenever we get to the pushing and shoving part of our parliamentary procedures, they do things like shut down the Washington monument, and not the parts that are killing us. It is as though someone came up with a form of political chemo that would kill the healthy cells and leave the cancer alone. Promised entitlements have gotten to levels that have set historic records for our quadrant of the Milky Way. The Fed has an epic case of dollar dysentery. And healthcare.gov has registered scores of people.
Now what has happened is this. There is a Tea Party caucus in the Republican Party that has teamed up with the fiscal libertarians. They were elected to go defend the pass at Thermopylae, and not to come back with a bipartisan consensus with the Persians. Enough of them were elected to be able to force the establishment Republicans into a showdown with the president and Senate, which the “moderates” didn’t like, not even a little bit.
First the rowdies found the liquor cabinet, and then linked a continuous funding resolution to the defunding of Obamacare. That was shot down, so then they linked it to a delay of Obamacare and other cool stuff, which, among other things, would allow the White House to find a web guy who knew what he was doing. On top of this, this coming week the debt ceiling will be reached, and Obama can’t get the extension he wants and needs without the cooperation of the House. All clear?
Okay, so the House Republicans have been playing smashmouth, much to the irritation of lots of Respectable Figures. And, as much as I like listening to him, Charles Krauthammer is a Respectable Figure.
What happened was this. The Republicans got into a saloon brawl with the Democrats, much to my delight, but now the polls have come in — the American public is disgusted with everybody, but especially with the Republicans. Their popularity is about as healthy as https://www.healthcare.gov/. And on Special Report last night, Charles Krauthammer said that this was a “catastrophe.”
But why? Did anybody seriously think that we could be under this pile of debt, entitlements, quantitative dysentery, unfunded mandates, stragulatory regulation, wild promises, old school graft, hallucinogenic budgeting, and special interests — all in all, a magnificent specimen of a corruptocracy in full flower — and somehow fix it while remaining popular? Are you joking me?
I have a parable. One time a bus driver was headed down the road with a bus full of idiot school children singing one of their favorite songs, something where the chorus ended with a shouted refrain — “if you don’t like, or even love, Janet Yellen . . . I’m tellin’!” The verses were all about the place where “handouts grow on bushes,” a place called the Big Rock Candy Entitlement Office. The children were warming to their work, but the bus driver kept worrying about the signs that said the bridge up ahead was out. If he stopped the bus, and the song, then what would happen to his popularity? Would the kids still like him? Of course, the kids never had liked him, and never would, but wouldn’t it be better to him to just shut up and help drive off the bridge? After all, if he didn’t keep driving the way they wanted, they might not even let him help drive off the bridge. They might even call him names on the way down to the river. That would be a catastrophe.