debt ceiling, Ed Sullivan, government shutdown, Harry Reid, political theater, President Obama, Speaker Boehner
Who can regard shutdown mania as anything other than a collaborative enterprise between our friends in Washington and our friends in the media, to put on another really big show? All we lack is an impresario like Ed Sullivan to introduce the participants, then interview them briefly after the performance is over. Think of it:
Ed (shoulders hunched, motioning with his hand while the audience applauds): Speaker Boehner, come on over here.
Speaker Boehner (smiling): Pleasure…
Ed: Tell me, Speaker, how did you pull this off? You’ve got everybody in the country mad at you.
Speaker Boehner (still smiling and looking shyly at the floor, shuffling his feet slightly): Gosh, Mr. Sullivan, we worked really hard…
Ed: What’s next? Where do you go from here?
Speaker Boehner (looking up now at the audience): Well we’ve got a lot of different shows planned for our tour.
Ed (leaning in a little): Debt mania’s coming up, right?
Speaker Boehner (smiling broadly): Oh yes, that’s going to be one of our best!
Ed (smiling now himself, and lightly touching Speaker Boehner’s shoulder): Well, you go get ’em, and best wishes to you.
Speaker Boehner (backing up slightly as he prepares to exit stage right): Thank you, thank you.
Ed (watching Speaker Boehner walk off the stage and holding both arms above his head): Let’s hear it! Let’s hear it for Speaker Boehner! (Applause all around, with hints of Boehner mania from the front rows.)
I should say that I like Speaker Boehner well enough. He has a hard job – I wouldn’t want it. He receives a lot of help for the show they’re putting on in Washington. Whatever Harry Reid and President Obama might say, the Republicans aren’t to blame for everything that happens. In politics, you can’t refuse to negotiate, and then say everything is the other guy’s fault. When two sides engage in conflict, the outcome depends on the actions of both sides.
Here’s something to remember: real politics and political theater are not the same thing. We don’t send representatives to Washington, or elect presidents, to put on performances for us. We send them to Washington to conduct the business of government. To say they haven’t been doing that understates the case. They haven’t even tried, nor do they seem to care.