Saturday, April 09, 2011

Eleventh Hour Lovefest

In a windup worthy of the WWF, Washington budget wrestlers bounce off the canvas to take bows and hug one another for the cheering crowds.

In the Senate, Harry Reid is so carried away that, hours after calling the GOP "shameful," he praises every Republican in sight including John Boehner's chief of staff and, most of all, Mitch McConnell, who gushes back that Congress has made history, instead of repeating the history of the Newt Gingrich-Bill Clinton government shutdown.

For skeptics who suspect that the match was fixed from the start, Dana Milbank points out, "If negotiators were driven by logic, the possibility of a shutdown never would have arisen. Instead, they decided to go to DefCon 1 over a skirmish involving a fraction of 1 percent of the federal budget."

But for an evening with no Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, the late-night entertainment value of the "showdown" should not be underestimated. If Linda McMahon, the doyenne of professional wrestling, had won that Connecticut Senate seat, she would have been proud.

Boehner is apologizing to Tea Party fans for not having taken it all in the SmackDown, but there will be other nights to build an audience for what looks like a continuing hit show.

Update: The President, unblinking optimist that he is, at least in public, puts the best face on the farce in his Weekly Address:

"Like any compromise, this required everyone to give ground on issues that were important to them. I certainly did. Some of the cuts we agreed to will be painful--programs people rely on will be cut back; needed infrastructure projects will be delayed. And I would not have made these cuts in better circumstances. But we also prevented this important debate from being overtaken by politics and unrelated disagreements on social issues."

Translation: The Republicans brought a gun to a knife fight, but we dodged the bullet.

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