Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Soooo Boring ...

I started catching on to the formula for Shutdown Theater back in the 1990s when it was the Republicans vs. Bill Clinton on "draconian cuts" to Medicare (in actuality, the argument was about whether to increase Medicare spending by one amount or by one infinitesimally smaller amount).

The formula looks something like this:

  • Have an argument about something that doesn't really amount to a hill of beans but riles up both parties' bases (in this case, it's about whether or not to spend a few billion bucks making the US-Mexico border just a little more East-Germanish);
  • Raise the specter of a "government shutdown" which is actually no such thing ("essential services," VERY broadly construed, aren't affected -- if a service ISN'T essential, why the hell is the government doing it in the first place);
  • Either one side wusses out and a "stopgap spending bill" prevents the supposed "shutdown" (that's what appears to be happening this time); or
  • America settles in for a few days of whiny feel-bad stories about how Mom and Dad can't take the kids to Yosemite because of the mean ol' Republicans, after which one side or the other wusses out and a deal is reached (under which all the non-essential bureaucrats who got sent home get paid for their vacations).
Trump seemed to be feinting toward the approach that I've always recommended (instead of whining that the shutdown stuff "isn't my fault," own it -- "damn right I'm responsible for the shutdown, and it will STAY shut down until you say uncle") this time, albeit over a stump-stupid demand. But after two years it's become obvious that if anyone can be counted on to wuss out, it's Trump.

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