As I begin this post, it’s not yet 8:00 a.m. and I haven’t even had coffee yet. Nor do I have the time/room here to talk about Donald “Pompadour” Trump’s transformation from a self-serving billionaire into a self-serving “birther”; Michelle Bachmann making Sarah Palin look like Eleanor Roosevelt; or other little matters like new violence against Israel, the ever-enlarging quagmire developing in Libya, and another unsettling earthquake in Japan.
That’s because my mind – like those of millions of Americans – won’t move off the subject of the very-possible government shutdown, a circumstance we’re all confronted with because the Congressional Republicans insist on hooking budget resolution to the policy issues they’ve wanted to tackle (and dismember) for years, and, because President Obama has been walking softly and carrying no stick at all virtually since he took office.
It remains to be seen what ultimately gets thrown under the bus during these final, early-dawn White House negotiations. We’ll very possibly see funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drown in the still-bubbling oil clogging the Gulf, or PBS/NPR going dark and silent, or, especially, Planned Parenthood rendered bankrupt as millions of American women have no place to turn for routine and preventative health care, not abortions.
Whatever does or doesn’t happen regarding the government shutdown today, it’s important to remember that the budget being haggled over only covers governmental operations through September 30th, the end of the nation’s fiscal year. We have to soon confront the budget for 2012 and will no doubt have to watch the consideration of Rep. Paul D. Ryan’s (R-WI and chairman, House Budget Committee) proposed plan, which New York Times columnist Paul Krugman correctly termed “ludicrous and cruel” today.
What disturbs me as much as the details of all this political wrangling is the fact that more people were more concerned with the American Idol finals last night than the fact that the government was simultaneously being held hostage by politicians from both parties who, I fear, are more absorbed with getting re-elected than doing the right thing.
That said, the Republicans, with the Tea Party holding a legal assault weapon to their heads, do seem to genuinely care about making war on women, the poor, the environment, and arts/education in all its forms, and they’re going to continue this battle whether the government shuts down or not. Helpfully, the President and the Democrats in both houses squandered the political capital they had for the past two years and did very little to protect these constituencies and further their causes. But what difference does it make when the winners of American Idol and Dancing With the Has-beens are at stake? I wouldn’t know any of those people if you threw them in my lap. But I’m certain that many of the people who do, would not be able to identify two of the three people pictured above (for the record, left: Harry Reid, D-NV, Senate Majority Leader, and, right: John Boehner, R-OH, Speaker of the House).
Last night, Martin Wolf from London’s Financial Times, was on Charlie Rose talking about this budget dilemma, and he said: “Winston Churchill once observed that `America always does the right thing – after exhausting every other alternative'.” God willing and the creek don’t rise…