Political Animal


December 28, 2012 9:11 AM Lousy Lovers

By Ed Kilgore

Near the end of Jennifer Steinhauer’s semi-dadaist piece for the New York Times on the absurdity of Congress (the Senate today, the House on Sunday) racing back to Washington “to begin the business of doing nothing in particular,” there’s this unusual passage:

The Congressional impasse over how to avoid tax increases and spending cuts has left this entire city gripping Starbucks cups procured from Georgetown to Capitol Hill, bearing the message “come together,” to wait in low-grade misery for the next chapter in the drama. This would be Sunday night, when House members arrive, just ahead of New Year’s Eve at the summons of their leaders, who decided Thursday that they could not afford to be home killing time while Senate Democratic leaders took to C-Span to take shots at the absent House.
As the nation awaited news — any news! — about what would happen to the nation’s fiscal health, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the sex therapist, volunteered on Twitter that lawmakers who could not compromise “probably aren’t good lovers.” That was around midday.

I can’t really tell if Steinhauer is mocking the whole spectacle along with the manufactured despair it has generated in much of the punditocracy, or sharing the frustration of those who don’t understand why the solons don’t just enact the Simpson-Bowles Report and call it a day.

But any way you slice it, this weekend is not likely to improve anyone’s approval ratings.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • sjw on December 28, 2012 9:35 AM:

    Just read that Schumer thinks a deal is still quite possible. Which makes me worry that Obama is going to settle AGAIN for something really lousy AND give away a good portion of his bargaining leverage in subsequent talks.

  • max on December 28, 2012 9:40 AM:

    But any way you slice it, this weekend is not likely to improve anyone’s approval ratings.

    Well, if I am reading Ezra correctly, the situation we have here is, having emerged triumphant from the 2012 campaign season, having gained seats in the Senate, won the House election (albeit without having taken the House due to gerrymandering and whatnot), having gained major ground in public opinion, with the support of the public at their backs for protecting various programs, with the support of the public for increasing taxes on rich people, with the first black man reelected President, and with the public hating on the House GOP, it so turns out that the Democratic Senate is eager, nay, *desperate* to surrender IMMEDIATELY to the first Republicans they can find. (And are failing to secure defeat because the Tea Party doesn't think the terms of total abject surrender are sadistic enough.)

    And Barack Obama can't do anything about this because people might frown at him if he used his veto pen.

    O, such brave hearts. I must say, Jonah Goldberg is a total ratbag, and he was very wrong to apply the term 'cheese eating surrender monkeys' to the French, but it IS a useful term, apparently, for describing Hill Democrats.

    That said, I can make an argument for the Hill D's to surrender, because we could then hope that the Tea Bagger crowd would take them out and have them shot, and then someday we might have some actual politicians to represent us non-Tea Baggers.

    ['I mean, I can't really blame the Hill D's, since apparently they themselves would've voted straight ticket Republican.']

  • boatboy_srq on December 28, 2012 9:49 AM:

    House members... decided Thursday that they could not afford to be home killing time while Senate Democratic leaders took to C-Span to take shots at the absent House.

    Because hoocoodanode that throwing a tantrum, taking their toys and going home wouldn't look good in the press.

    And cheers for Dr. Ruth's ongoing relevance as a shrink - but I for one can't imagine the current crop of superannuated, Scroogified fossils now in charge of the GOTea in any erotic contest whatsoever - not and keep my breakfast, that is. The juxtaposition of the current Starbucks campaign and her observation is just wrong on more levels than I care to think.

  • Anonymous on December 28, 2012 10:08 AM:

    "Semi-Dadaist!" You nailed it, Ed!

    In football, there was an old joke about an awful game where two really bad teams met - and I hope itss not the case here.
    The game was described as, 'The Immovable Object, Met The Totally Resistable Force.' One side couldn’t move the ball forward, and the other side had no defense.

    The Teabaggers, obviously, are the 'immoveable object.' What I'm hoping for from President Obama and the Democrats, is that they not be weak, and that they can resist not giving in to that 'immoveable object’s' outrageous demands.

    In football, that game was funny - a joke. In politics, the consequences are neither - and potentially deadly.

    The Republican Party is now a party of Nihilists and Terrorists. And, there’s absolutely no good reason to negotiate with them, at this point.
    Especially not when, after January 1st, we automatically begin to eat away at the deficit they're allegedly SOOOO very concerned about!

    And the President had better figure out a way to not have the Congress, especially the House, involved in raising the debt ceiling.
    The Republicans aren't exactly Solomon, when threatening to cut the contested baby in two. No, they'll gladly cut the baby in two just for the Hell of it, then hack the mother's, and any bystanders, to death, too - if they’re given the opportunity to.

    These are some twisted Manichean motherfecker's, who, in the cloak of "patriotism," will gladly ruin the future of this nation, for a short term victory for themselves, and their party.

    'Sic Semper Republicanis!'
    Figuratively, of course…

  • c u n d gulag on December 28, 2012 10:12 AM:


    "Anonymous," was me - gulag - in case the length of the comment didn't give it away. :-)

  • Doug on December 28, 2012 1:49 PM:

    'gulag, it wasn't the length that gave you away, it was your particular variation on a well-known verb...

  • Rick B on December 28, 2012 2:46 PM:

    It still looks to me as though the tea baggers and their plutocratic enablers have learned the lesson of refusing to cooperate until they win. It worked in Munich to avoid war while stealing Czechoslovakia, after all.

    The Democrats may have also learned that caving just encourages them. But they have to put a continual motion machine on the media to appear like they are really working to resolve the issue because they do not want to lose the easily swayed "undecided" vote. Because of the show the Democrats are putting on, we in the public really have no clue what cards they will really play.

    The media has to fill news holes, so they are totally attracted to all the movement being done to keep their attention. What else does a political reporter do over New Years except write idiotic "End of Year" stories?

    The fact that there is no real "cliff" means this is not going to be resolved very quickly. Boehner isn't going to change anything until his job as Speaker is secure again.

    Look away people. There is no real car wreck to see as we drive by.

    It's all just a stage set created to highlight a conflict between the semi-sane (truly reasonable have long been driven out) and the herd of insane tea baggers being led by their noses by such as Rove and Armey, minions of the power-hungry plutocrats.