Washington being Washington means that the good news can also be the bad news. And there are times when awfully bad is also really, really good.
Take the Oct. 1 shutdown … please!
As recently as last week experts said a shutdown was unstoppable and that hardheaded politicians either wanted it or were too stupid or timid to stop it.
A commentator for the highly regarded Politico magazine said there was a 75 percent chance Uncle Sam would fold like a cheap suit by Oct. 1.
Some experts put the shutdown odds at or near 100 percent. One wrote that everyone but him was missing the boat. That, he said, is because others seemed almost “desperate to discount” the political tea leaves he was reading, which pointed to a surefire shutdown. Only the Pope’s well-covered visit saved us from 24/7 shutdown news, which eclipsed even the latest doings of the Kardashians.
The significant portion of the media that covers government and politics was in shutdown mode and good to go. And truth to tell, happier than pigs in a mud pile!
Many of us (like moi) were busy denouncing pointy-headed politicians who would either cause or allow a shutdown to happen. Many of the same people were secretly hoping (a few of the devout may have even prayed) it would happen.
The 16-day shutdown in 2013 produced tens of thousands of written and broadcast words, updating statuses and estimating losses from the shutdown. While federal workers were paid late (a hardship for many), all of the civil servants hit by the shutdown got paid for time not worked.
If the shutdown fizzles and goes away, hundreds of outside “experts” (i.e., people who have written about or commented on previous shutdowns) won’t get their 15 minutes of fame.
Over the past couple of weeks, hundreds of PR firms and publishers have made pitches to the media, offering experts for comment on everything from avoiding to living with a shutdown. Typical is the firm that offered to make available the PhD author of a book on how to manage the public sector workforce. It promised tips on “creating a supportive environment … staying focused and being prepared ” and monitoring the impact of a shutdown. Now we’ll never hear from her. Unless another shutdown looms later on.
It turns out that not having a shutdown, which some said was an indicator of the end of democracy, is worse than having one. At least for some people.
Lawyers representing clients from the 2013 shutdown and furlough will be denied new business. Unions that hoped a shutdown would inspire non-members (free riders) to sign up, have lost their burning issue.
The good news and bad news is that this will all come back again to haunt and taunt us. Long after House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) political obit has been written and his new job announced, somebody in the House, Senate or even the White House will decide things need to be shaken up via a government shutdown.
Maybe next time!