Bob Franken: New bowl games test partisan foes
Now that we’ve gotten past the Super Bowl in New Orleans’ Superdome, it’s time to turn our attention to those in Washington playing under the Capitol Dome in the Stupid Bowl.
What else should we call the game-playing that’s going on as the partisan gladiators hurtle from one crisis to another? Next up, as we know, is the sequester, which goes into full, destructive effect in less than a month. To sidestep it, somebody will need to fake us out and come up with some way to avoid still another big loss — not just for the economy, but for the credibility of our government.
This crisis is particularly disgusting because it was self-inflicted by our elected leaders. In August 2011, to avoid a United States default, they concocted legislation that would impose nearly across-the-board cuts so appalling to both sides that Republicans and Democrats would be forced to set aside their partisan vitriol and cobble together a budget deal that would avoid this sledgehammer fiasco. They imposed a Jan. 1 deadline this year, thinking it would be plenty of time.
It’s hard to believe we could underestimate these guys, but we did. Jan. 1 came and went, and all the burnt out members of the outgoing Congress could do is pass a short extension, making March 1 the new zero hour.
That’s less than a month from now, and we still have no agreement, other than people on both sides concurring that a sequestration is undesirable. Sad to say, they also are ruefully acknowledging that it’s probably going to happen.
If they’re right, then on March 1, the Pentagon and most domestic agencies will begin to gut vital programs, crippling not just federal endeavors that are an integral part of our lives, but also doing very real damage as we struggle to avoid a return to recession. The fiscal situation is very fragile right now.
As ridiculous as this is, it doesn’t come anywhere near winning the Stupid Bowl competition. No, the Idiot Trophy goes to those who are involved in the squabble over Barack Obama, the skeet blaster. It’s his own fault. He’s so anxious to placate rootin’ tootin’ shootin’ gun lovers that he told the New Republic that he fires at the clay pigeons himself on occasion.
That was all the, uh, ammunition the right-wing crazies needed. They were nearly screaming their doubts, demanding proof that the president wasn’t lying through his skeets. Here’s the really inane part: The White House released a picture of POTUS firing a shotgun. Who knows what possessed his handlers to do that. All they accomplished was inspiring everyone to dream up some snarky captions and some pretty wild photo-editing. To be honest, some of it was pretty funny.
It assumes that if the gun is his, he had to go through the registration process. Sorry, Republicans; it showed he was born in the United States. Beyond that, the photo revealed that it was not his best sport, if we are to believe Michael Hampton of the National Skeet Shooting Association. He told The Associated Press, “This is something he hasn’t done very often.”
The very fact that there is a National Skeet Shooting Association kind of boggles the mind. You sure don’t want to go to their meetings.
Meanwhile, back at the White House firing range, otherwise known as the news briefing room, press secretary Jay Carney was not saying who made the decision to release that shot shot. So we won’t know until the next announcement about who has decided to leave the administration and “pursue other interests.”
Given the deadly implications of the gun-control debate, how pathetic it is that the issue is reduced to such silliness, or that the nation is always one step away from financial meltdown. Forget the Stupid Bowl. What we have here is a real toilet bowl.
Bob Franken is a former CNN correspondent. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.