Fiscal Cliff: Four More Weeks and Not a Minute Sooner
With only a few weeks to go before our elected officials take a baby step toward national financial chaos (at least in comparison with the next steps after yet another congressional postponement of doing its job and making hard choices), I thought it might be interesting to get together with my old friend, Snollygoster.
Snollygoster is a rabbit with a unique occupation. For many years now he has made a living allowing himself to be inserted into a hat so that he could be removed at the last possible moment after all the political posturing was completed. Snollygoster (whose name means a person, especially a politician, who is guided by personal advantage rather than principle) has much experience in near proximity to the actual snollygosters who create – more or less intentionally – the very problems my friend’s emergence from the hat signifies are miraculously at an end.
Snolly (we are on a first name basis) has served his nation ably as the backdrop for last minute solutions after the maximum public relations mileage has been extracted from whatever situation can be turned to political advantage. This was the gist of our recent conversation.
libertyPell – Snolly, can you describe your role in the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations?
Snolly – Well, yes, it is pretty much the same as always. First we need a deadline, preferably during or just after a holiday. This enables your elected officials to be seen fighting for their voters and heaping blame on their opponents while loved ones await their return. At some stage I let myself get placed into a hat and from time to time I emerge only to be pushed back in by one side or the other.
lP – How long have you been doing this?
Snolly – Well, you have to remember that 15 years is about as long as rabbits live, so my 12 years in the job puts me pretty high on the list.
lP – Have there been others?
Snolly – Oh yes, one of my predecessors was nearly killed by Lord North’s stupidity that led to the Revolution. Had he been able to wiggle out of the Prime Minister’s fumbling grasp, we might still be part of England. There have been Snollygosters in my job since then.
lP – Is the job dangerous?
Snolly – Can be. You see there are idiots who have not been sufficiently burned by the spotlights and they jump in and shove me back down into the hat when everyone else is ready to let me emerge. Often I don’t expect it and it can be quite painful.
lP – Does this political fight differ from the others you have had a role in?
Snolly – Not a bit. As always, everyone knows what needs to be done. Taxes need to be raised. Entitlements need to be cut. Defense costs need to come way down and many other federal programs need to be pared back or eliminated. Nobody is fighting about any of those things. They are fighting about who looks better or worse in the fight and afterward. It is all part of what they do. There is really very little governing in Washington. It is almost all fund raising and campaigning.
lP – Are there any ground rules that you hear about while you are stuffed into the hat?
Snolly – Typically they take turns jamming me back into the hat. One side makes a proposal and the other takes two or three things off the table. The first side gets just short of calling the second side liars and I lay low for the rest of the news cycle. Then the roles reverse.
lP – How do you see this playing out?
Snolly – We always wait for the cots. Those are a great visual. They line them up in the Capitol to make you think everyone is working through the night for “the American people” then I pop out and everyone goes home to fund raise.
lP – When do you see it ending this time?
Snolly – Well, Christmas is on a Tuesday so definitely not before that. The cots are going to look really good this year with tinsel and lights. Maybe Thursday Friday earliest? Could be Monday the 31st if there is still some mileage in it.
lP – Thank you Snolly and thank you for your service to our country.