Aha! Did the GOP leadership in Congress take note of my recent blog about rescuing themselves from the "debt ceiling crisis" they have threatened?
No, of course not. But it's fun to think so. And certainly my posting went up just as the GOP was headed into a two-day retreat this week to contemplate its next moves. Though the retreat was closed to the press, word leaked out. (It's harder to keep secrets in D.C. than to keep white cat fur off of black upholstery.)
"Hey, guys," the House GOP leadership reputedly told the members, "let's not be so quick to refuse to raise the debt ceiling. Golly, fellas, that could make big problems for the nation, the world and - most of all - our chances of re-election. Let's not get blamed for Armageddon even if you like the idea of smashing everything. Let's choose a different MacGuffin. Let's just threaten a little smashing, not smashing EVERYTHING!"
Now of course John Boehner and Paul Ryan didn't use the term "MacGuffin". They aren't that hip. It's a term supposedly created by Alfred Hitchcock as the label for a plot device that drives the story but is actually not very precise or important. Such as the meaning of "Rosebud" in "Citizen Kane". Most of the time the audience largely forgets the MacGuffin as the motives, schemes, and adventures of the characters take over the story. In spy stories it's often a copy of "the plans". Plans for what? Who cares? Do you remember what the MacGuffin was in "North By Northwest"? Nobody does.
My suggestion to the GOP was to forget the debt ceiling as a MacGuffin and pick something else that allows them to beat upon their one and only issue - the lame one of debt 'n deficit. In other words, pick another MacGuffin.
And so they are! Ryan made noises about being "responsible", i.e. forget the debt limit as a hostage. Boehner quit ginning up the debt limit hostage talk. Some other team leaders talked about being "good followers", i.e. not insisting on Armageddon. The gist of it all was an apparent massive backing away from the debt ceiling extortion Boehner had previously announced.
Hats off to Obama! He has apparently succeeded in calling the GOP bluff. He's learned quite well that you can't do business with the House GOP as responsible, patriotic and intelligent people because they aren't. The only one who MAY qualify as such is Boehner but he has no power. He can't deliver the votes. He can't make a deal. Thus he is a zip-zero-nada! Forget Boehner! Let McConnell handle him, i.e. manipulate him into letting necessary votes come to the floor of the House where Democrats and 17 Republicans can enact what must be enacted as happened with the "fiscal cliff".
You don't like all this "gamesmanship"? Go see the movie "Lincoln". Tell me that freeing 4 MILLION people from slavery wasn't worth the gamesmanship that made the 13th Amendment a reality. Tell me how else a polyglot society of wildly different beliefs is going to make it through the next 226 years as we have since adopting the Constitution. We have ALWAYS done it this way! We are the oldest government in its same form, and it's always been messy. As Churchill said, "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others." When gamesmanship and politics failed, we got the Civil War.
Just be glad that Obama is now playing the game with no illusions. And let's see what the next GOP MacGuffin is.
(NOTE: Ever notice how just four people "said" virtually everything: Churchill, Hitchcock, Mark Twain, Will Rogers. Make that five. Add my mother. Or yours?)