Fiscal Cliffhanger

Everywhere you turn, these last few weeks, all we hear about is the fiscal cliff, or curb, if you’re into the “lean forward” channel.

Everyone and their mothers have an opinion. Strange, how we’re all fixated on what is essentially a really unsexy, mundane policy battle. But someone called it the cliff, and cliffs are so cool and dangerous, and we all want to look over the edge, and now we might be going over one; so that’s even cooler and more dangerous, if we all go over a cliff together.

Debate is supposed to be a good thing, negotiations between the political parties even better. But I can’t remember the last time I was so unsatisfied and unimpressed with political theater, even if it’s called “the cliff.”

There’s like no nuance, no intrigue, no real drama. Every day it’s play, rewind, repeat.

The President says he wants a deal, but not without higher rates. The Speaker of the House responds that there can be no deal without entitlement reform. Then the press announces there might be progress. Then they announce that there is no progress. Then I wake up the next day, and it’s exactly the same thing.

But now the President is running his lines at some random family’s breakfast table, and the Speaker is at a Hotel Conference room podium. The following day, the Speaker is in front of a bank of microphones, and the President is now at a diner (oh wait, that was the Vice President).

This is no way to have a debate, or a negotiation, or whatever it is these two guys are doing. This is no cliff; this is like a sleepy, sloping hillside.

We need a game changer. We need to get this thing out of the first act and on to the car chase.

My advice to the President: everyone seems to think you’re holding all the cards, so just refuse to negotiate further; lay out your final offer, then bust out your Inner Zen-Master and stop talking about it.

Tell the Speaker that when he’s ready, he can call you…maybe.

Literally, just refuse to engage at all, like period. Go a couple of weeks without uttering a single word about it. There are big problems in the world: Egypt, Syria. Organize a summit. Oraganize two. Go visit some of those world leaders who are feeling neglected by our Pacific Pivot. Go see the troops in Afghanistan. Go see Will & Kate. Leave Washington. Leave the Speaker twisting in the wind.

Let the drama build in your absence. Watch the chattering classes do their thing. Let the opposition party have a collective freak-out, arguing over their positions. Let them debate the meaning of your silence.

Of course, the Speaker will blame you. Of course, he’ll complain about you leaving town. So what?

While you’re off being presidential, he’ll have no one to meet with, except Pelosi and Reed. And they have him outgunned, outsmarted and outflanked. The whole country will be holding their collective breath wondering — what will the Speaker do?

All the while, the calendar will be turning, and we’ll be getting closer and closer to the cliff. But now, there won’t be the boring, daily bickering. Instead there will be intrigue and high-stakes drama. The hero has disengaged, the challengers turn on each other. While you’re bringing world leaders holiday wishes in person, the unopposed winner of the 8th district of Ohio will be isolated and exposed as the small man, from the small district, with the small ideas.

Nobody respects the guy who plays chicken with our country’s economic health. And we can all watch with smug satisfaction, relief and vindication as the anti-hero yanks the emergency brake and turns the wheel away from the cliff just at the last moment, exhausted and defeated.

Now that’s a storyline I’d pay higher rates to see.

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13 Responses to Fiscal Cliffhanger

  1. Brutally Frank says:

    It’s a good story with a great ending. But I prefer “Thelma & Louise!

  2. Babs says:

    In the end, rates for the richest will go up a couple points, so Obama wins. Medicare age will be raised to 67, so Boehner has something to give his wingnuts. No one really wins unless our President does what the majority wants him to do, which is to take the rates to the Clinton era and keep medicare at 65! In the meantime this is like the movie “Groundhog Day.” Over and over and over!

  3. Gregor says:

    We created this drama. There is no cliff, fiscal or otherwise. When you wage 2 wars, simultaneously, with tax cuts, you create the illusion of a crisis.

    This has been the last gasp of the cynical right to use a phony crisis to dismantle social security, medicare and medicaid.

    John Boehner is a brat. He’s the leader of the brats, instead of the leader of the pack. What a sad group of spoiled, irrelevant brats.

    Grow Up, White Boy! That’s a storyline I’d gladly pay a higher rate to see.

  4. B.K. says:

    We’ve never let this happen before. The first time we let our credit rating slip was in President Obama’s first term. I’ve never been so ashamed to be Republican.

    For the first time in my life, I voted Democrat. I’m putting my faith in a man who’s steady hand has opened my eyes to the shambles of the GOP.

    I will be happy to vote Republican once the current establishment steps aside, allowing for new, real leadership to develop their sea legs. I wish this president God Speed & Good Luck in his second term.

    We’re lucky to have President Obama.

    • Gregor says:

      Lucky is the Understatement of the 21st Century!

    • Kan Dee says:

      It’s a trend. Governor Charlie Crist officially changed his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. If you’re a thinking person, if you do more with your brain than change channels and cling to offensive stereotypes to make yourself feel better about how little you’ve actually done with your time, you change.

      I look forward to having 2 and 3 parties, viable parties, real parties. As it is, we have 1 party, the Democratic Party.

      If I learned anything in the last election season, it’s how far gone the Republican Party really is.

  5. Peter Quinn says:

    Thanks for posting the article, was certainly a great read!

  6. Brenda says:

    “Small man, from the small district, with the small ideas.” Someone needs to send the Speaker a link to this blog.

  7. Aaron says:

    Long time reader. First time commenter. Had to let Mister Ross know how much more I got out of this particular blog than all of the previous blogs. No disrespect to his propensity for being articulate. But in this case, the subject matter was timely, the writing was snappy and the word count was manageable.

    Here’s hoping it becomes a recurring trend…

  8. Johnny Gray says:

    More likely, this is a one-off. It takes stamina to generate a “recurring trend.” There’s nothing glamorous about stamina. Craft, and mastery of a craft, demand consistency plus time, with little concern for the result. You can worry about intention; you can worry about emotional reaction; but you cannot worry about the trajectory of acclaim, which is a result.

    Pretty dresses on red carpets with gold statuettes make for glamorous photo-ops. But you can spend a lifetime chasing the dragon. Turns out, the dragon doesn’t breathe fire. The dragon breathes long-winded excuses.

  9. Gregor says:

    I love writing. I’ve always loved writing. When I started out, blogging wasn’t even a word, much less a process for sharing ideas and exercising my fingers on the keyboard.

    When I was a little boy, I wanted to write books. When I was a young man, I wanted to write screenplays. Now, I want to sit my ass down, every single day, and bang something out.

    I love writing. Wish the GOP loved governing. As far as I can see, right now, there’s not a bigger dragon than John Boehner.

  10. Kendal says:

    You made several nice points. I did a search on the theme and found the majority of people agree with with your blog.

  11. M.J. says:

    Easy to understand. I like it!

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