Tantrums in High Places

tantrumsAs a parent I’m watching the government shutdown debacle with dismay. Not because it directly affects me or my kids (not yet), but because the antics of Ted Cruz and the Orange Oompa Loompa of Abject Insincerity, John Boehner, bring back painful memories of managing toddlers.

Picture a heated argument with your obstinate 5-year-old over bedtime. Back and forth it goes, and you listen patiently to his arguments that, “it’s not fair,” “everybody else gets to stay up all night, why can’t I?” and “you’re a poopyhead, Daddy, I hate you!” At long last, the two of you reach an agreement: in bed by 9, lights out at 9:30.

Everyone goes about their business, dinnertime comes and goes, and the clock eventually strikes nine. “Bedtime,” you declare in keeping with the deal made earlier. “No!” he whines, “No, first you have to read me a story, then I want a bath, I’m gonna play with my big trucks, and maybe THEN I’ll go to bed. Or not.” Seriously? Which part of ‘in bed by 9, lights out at 9:30’ did he not understand? “Well, I don’t want to and you can’t make me. Nyah Nyah Nyah.”

Except for the fact that even the most obnoxious 5-year-old is infinitely more endearing, reasonable and likable than your average tea-party Republican, that’s about the level we’re at.

Many moons ago, the Affordable Care Act was introduced, debated, diluted, compromised on, and at long last reduced to the sorry piece of flawed crap that ended up being passed into law. While not a single Republican voted for it, that’s still how democracy works. Except, ever since it passed, the Republicans have used every method in the book to undermine it (A whopping 42 House votes on the issue to date – Seriously? How stubborn can you be?), but failed. And so, it’s clearly something other than democracy we’re seeing when a handful of renegade Republicans now in desperation have retorted to holding the federal government hostage in order to renegotiate every aspect of the law that was passed in spite of them three years ago. It may be that I don’t get their bizarre approach to fiscal responsibility, but jeopardizing the nation’s economy to force the renegotiation of the minutiae of a long since passed law by holding up a budget is beyond sophomoric and embarrassing.

It’s certainly not very patriotic.

Now, in fairness to the rest of Congress (even the few remaining moderate Republicans), Cruz, Bachmann & Co. are not exactly the intellectual heirs to the Founding Fathers. A bible and a handgun appear to have been the only real requirements for election on the fringe GOP ticket lately, so their asshattery and pathetic grandstanding is to be expected. Nor is it surprising to find pundits – that sad sack crowd of professional bloated egos who thrive on dysfunction and willful ignorance – weighing in on the debacle, insisting with mock indignation that Mom & Dad ought to renegotiate bedtime since Jr. has declared that he’s really unhappy about the whole 9pm deal. “Compromise,” they whine, “President Obama, show some goodwill: reach out a hand and try to make this work.” Apparently, encouraging concessions to blackmailers and actively condoning the deliberate erosion of the most basic aspects of the political process is their idea of contributing to the national dialogue.

Thanks for nothing, guys.

We’re dealing with petulant, entitled, unreasonable kids here, who are testing limits to see what they can get away with. They’ve already gotten away with trashing the house and burning down the back yard, and what we really need now is a level-headed, caring and reliable parent that can stand firm and tell Jr. in no uncertain terms what time it is, and put him and the matter to rest. But, sadly, we don’t have that.

Because I fear that President Obama will once again cave and compromise in a misguided attempt at appeasing the Tea-tards (“the eleventeenth time will be the charm; this time they’ll love me”). Instead of winning their respect and cooperation, he will merely confirm their suspicion that they can get away with anything and are free to continue their determined effort to undermine and derail the fundamental concept of government.

In fact, the only real surprise here would be if Obama and the Democrats took this opportunity to say to the Republicans in the spirit of Senator Joe Welch, “Enough! At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” and act as if the Constitution and rule of law mattered to him, too. But if Obama instead agrees to renegotiate the Affordable Care Act at this point in the game, then his chronic inability and unwillingness to stand up to the thugs and bullies who belittle and trash democracy will become his lasting legacy, rather than his flawed and already overly compromised Obamacare.