“We made some progress today”

We made some progress today.

If this was the sentiment of a NFL owner or NFL player’s association lawyer after a negotiation or mediation session, I would completely understand.  The NFL season is approximately 4 1/2 months away and while it does not look good right now, the truth is that they have plenty of time.

No.  This was spoken by President Obama after meeting with Congressional officials at the White House.  Granted, the President also said that his staff would work “through the night” to try to find a budget agreement that avoids a government shutdown.  But still.  This is ridiculous.  The best we can do is “some progress” at this late stage of the game.

At this point, there’s really only two options.

Option 1, I’m Jacobim Mugatu in Zoolander and I’m going crazy while everyone else is acting completely normal.  I just want to scream at Rep. Boehner and President Obama, “Doesn’t anyone get it.  It’s your job to figure this out. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills or something. ” This isn’t the time to be tough.  This isn’t the time to prove a point.  Arguing over how best to fund basic government functions between now and September 30, 2011 is as pointless as a teenager asking permission to invite friends over when they are already ringing the door bell.  Can we find assurance or confidence in the fact that they are meeting? No, the meeting ended in less than an hour.  LESS THAN AN HOUR.

I sat at a computer for around 8 hours today writing several legal memos, one of which was about the similarities and differences between Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.  Look, I’m not bragging here. But the rest of America was working today.  Not all of us love our coworkers.  Not all of us love our jobs.  But we make sacrifices.  We work hard.  We figure it out.

Bottom line:  For them not to be able to figure this out is ridiculous.

Option 2, the gridlock and petty politics of Washington are more important than funding government operations and a short, likely “for show,” shut-down is not a big deal.  I mean, 800,000 federal workers might not get paid and the Cherry Blossom Festival will be cancelled.  That’s the gist of it.  By Monday or Tuesday, they’ve got it figured out and we’ve hit the snooze alarm until the 2012 budget battle begins in what…June? No big deal.

Let’s be honest, when CNN writes: “Congressional staffers began receiving their furlough notices earlier in the day. Employees deemed “essential” during a shutdown would still be able to work; those considered “nonessential” would not.” They are not really making the case for anything more serious than a really, really unfair day for about 800,000 people.

Bottom line: No one really cares and no one sees a short government shut-down as particularly bad.

As you can probably imagine by the tenor of this piece thus far, I think it matters.  I think it matters a great deal.  Call me a boy scout. I think that offering to run the country and promising to look out for the best interests of Americans necessarily involves difficult decisions and compromises.  Serious decisions for serious people.  I get the impression that not everyone involved in this debate is a serious person.  Some people (cough, Boehner, cough) are not in it for the right reasons.  And when that happens, we get this.  And if you disagree with me on this point, that’s fine.  Reasonable minds can disagree about the motivations of career politicians.  But after spending, spending, and spending over the last 10 years, they pick now to start a fight.  Really? We’re spending billions of dollar A DAY in Iraq.  Rep. Boehner had no problems signing that check.

So, I wonder which it is? Grown men (and women) acting like adolescent boys or a near harmless political stunt? Mokoto Rich of the New York Times just posted a story that seems to imply this is serious business.  Any chance we can get House Republicans to read The New York Times?

I’m not totally letting Obama and Reid off the hook here.  I think they believe that politically this plays really poorly for the Republicans and they are willing to play chicken for a time longer.  But can you imagine this in any other industry? I think it’s considered abject failure.  President Obama is supposed to be running the country and it’s quite possible that the thing he’s supposed to be running will soon just stop working.  Again, I get it.  It’s not his fault.  And while that might be true, it shouldn’t stop him from stepping up to the plate in private and asserting himself or better yet, stepping up to the microphone and calling them out.  I know, that only happens on the West Wing. But I bet it would get some people moving. It might even lead to brutal honesty and a frank discussion with the American people.  Something along the lines of – “Here’s why I won’t put politics above what I believe is right.”

Nah, why do that when we’re making so much some progress?

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