I watched a re-run of House from earlier this season last night. In a scene, Dr. House is supposed to be babysitting Cuddy’s daughter, which of course he doesn’t want to be doing, so he calls up his old pal Wilson to pick up some Chinese food for him, and when Wilson arrives, House tries to leave Wilson there watching the kid. Wilson defiantly refuses and walks out the front door to his car, as House also walks out the front door to his motorcycle.
House’s gambit is that Wilson is too decent a person to leave a 2 year-old home alone. House is able to play the fact that he’s kind of crazy and would simply take off, and is betting that Wilson will fold and stay with the kid, because he knows that Wilson is too good a person to ever allow the kid to be left alone. House is right, and it would have worked exactly as he'd planned, had House not been dating Cuddy. Wilson is able to play his ace-in-the-hole, and threatens to tell Cuddy about House leaving him there babysitting, thus guaranteeing that House would not get sex from Cuddy. Wilson wins, and both men return to the kid, who has in the three minutes they left her alone strewn popcorn and Chinese food all over the floor, and ingested a dime.
This is how I see the current budget negotiations in Congress and the threatened government shutdown. House is the Republicans, part calculating, part crazy, all dickish petulant child. Wilson is the Democrats, a patsy pushover, but a decent responsible adult. The crazy part of the Republicans actually WANT a government shutdown. The calculating part (the leadership) knows that it would be a) dangerous, and b) politically stupid (hard to get laid later) to allow a government shutdown to happen on their watch, but they are somewhat held hostage by the crazy part. So the Republicans are playing a game of chicken with the Democrats, who they figure, being the responsible suckers that they are, will flinch first and “compromise”, which in Washington, D.C. seems to always mean “Democrats cave on their core values while Republicans get everything they want”.
But the Democrats have an ace themselves. There is no way that a government shutdown is going to be blamed on the Democrats by the American people. In addition to the facts being on their side (which is certainly not dispositive of anything in politics), the propaganda is on their side as well. As everyone “knows”, the Democrats are the party of “big government”, and the Republicans are the party of “limited government”. Who shuts down the government? The limited government guys, of course, not those evil socialists who want to control every aspect of your lives.
Plus, with the recent actions of the radical governors elected in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Maine and elsewhere this past fall, the American people are beginning to get a nice big spoonful of Tea Party Crazy, and to understand what it actually means to their lives when the Republicans get to live out their wet dreams in public.
All political momentum is with the Democrats at this moment. Democrats are more motivated right now than Republicans, a major switch from six months ago. Independents, especially in the states that had Teabag Revolutions in 2010, are running in droves towards the Democrats and away from the Republicans. Full right-wing crazy is on full display right now, and to such a grand extent that it’s hard to avoid seeing it, even for the average casually ignorant American (as opposed to the aggressively ignorant Teahadists, who just LOVE the idea of destroying the government from the inside out and/or using it to oppress liberals, women, the poor, unions, etc...).
Now, if only the Democrats have the courage and foresight to actually play their ace and not only let the Republican trump their scared and overwhelmed leadership, but to press the point home to the American people when it happens and not let the Republicans somehow take political advantage of it, then the Democrats could be back in business, and rolling in 2012. “Flip the track, bring the old school back”. This is how we do it.
Honestly, I just don't want them to make me eat a dime.