POLITICAL THEATER

Posted in Rants on January 4th, 2011 by Ed

For someone who allegedly makes a living teaching people about political science, I have a remarkably low level of interest in actual politics most of the time. I have occasional bursts of enthusiasm but for the most part I have no interest in the parts of governing that amount to elaborate mating dances. Frequent readers know, for example, that Supreme Court confirmations are just about the least interesting thing on Earth to me. Senate judiciary committee hearings are little more than a week of Senators mugging for the camera and trying to put together an appropriately "fiery" sounding speech until everyone gets bored and the nominee is inevitably confirmed anyway. Wake me when it's over.

This heavily hyped "showdown" over raising the debt ceiling is drifting into Totally Uninteresting territory before it even begins, and we collectively share the misfortune of having to sit through a few weeks of it anyway over the next few months. The orange one himself, John Boehner:

"I’ve made it pretty clear to them that as we get into next year, it’s pretty clear that Congress is going to have to deal with (the debt ceiling)," Mr. Boehner, who is slated to become House speaker in January, told reporters. "We’re going to have to deal with it as adults," he said, in what apparently are his most explicit comments to date. "Whether we like it or not, the federal government has obligations and we have obligations on our part."

Moron-in-chief Pete Sessions (R-TX):

"My sense is when you’re out spending wildly and then you’re willing to raise the debt limit, that’s a problem," Mr. Sesssions said. "When you are [coming in] with a comprehensive plan, including a budget that clearly lays out priorities and expectations of performance, then say you have to deal with what is there—[that] is a very responsible position…We have to have a discussion with our newest members that involves more of a plan…The United States must pay its bills."

In other words, "Boy, all that crap sounded good during the election. Now grow the fuck up, children." Does anyone expect for a minute that the GOP, the quintessential party of the establishment if ever one existed, would default on our obligations and bring the banking and financial industries to complete ruin? Oh, some of them are serious. Michelle Bachmann is probably quite serious when she says she will vote against it. But so what? This is standard practice. The leadership cobbles together enough votes to pass it and then everyone else takes the political cover of voting against it. "Look!", the most vulnerable GOP freshmen will say in 2012, "I voted against it! The system is corrupt! I am but one man!"

Yawn. The only aspect of this that promises to offer any entertainment value is watching how much the Democrats give away for no good reason. This is essentially a big game of chicken – the GOP promising not to raise the ceiling without austerity, the Democrats daring them to default – and we already know who are the superior negotiators. Rather than saying, "Right, like you're actually going to do it" and digging in their heels, I'm sure the White House and Senate Democrats will be tripping over themselves to gut Social Security and Medicare every time Boehner pauses to take a breath…or perhaps to stifle his laughter.

Seriously, wake me when this nonsense is over. The GOP may be rife with lunatics, but it even more rife with people who take their marching orders from Wall Street.