keithreifsnyder / Flickr US Capitol...
keithreifsnyder / Flickr

Well, that was exciting. NOT! Where was all of the drama, the gravitas of the moment? With the healthcare episode, there was the “who shot JR” moment, with John McCain catching peoples breath, his arm outstretched, finally turning his thumb down like Caesar condemning a losing gladiator to death. This time they just This time they just wandered aimlessly around the well of the Senate like the zombies in “Sean of the dead.” That is, until after the vote, then the well of the Senate looked like the inside of a beehive.

“In for a penny, in for a pound” as they say. My heart almost stopped when they started talking about an extension until February 8th. If there is one thing that the Democrats cannot do, it is to end this shutdown without a resolution. 

The Republicans rule like that fat slob who used to turn out your pockets for your lunch money in third grade, they’re bullies. If you push them away, and they give you a clip across the chops, and you hand them your lunch money, they own you. If the Democrats give them the short term extension, they lose all credibility. Who cared if we go through this all over again in three more weeks, they’ll just hand over the change again the next time McConnell slaps them around. The only way to deal with a bully is to bloody his nose in the process.

The GOP is more than capable of fucking this up all by themselves, in fact they’re already doing it. Trump’s whiny, petulant “I will not negotiate with terrorists” statement through his press secretary last night was a four year old stamping his foot when you give him a time out. New Flash for the Tangerine Tantrum. Every President says that, and every President ends up negotiating. The only question is how long it takes. If Trump refuses to negotiate, there’s gonna be a lot of dust on a lot of desks by the time this is over with. The simple fact that he eventually signs a bill that ends the shutdown means that he negotiated, through Mitch McConnell. That statement was nothing more than empty, bellicose posturing.

And McConnell has already stepped in it himself. In objecting to the Democrats proposal for unanimous consent to assure payments for active military families and survivor benefits for fallen heroes, he just poisoned the well with military constituents. It doesn’t really matter if he votes for it today, or tomorrow, or next week, the damage is done. He made it clear at one o’clock this morning how much the GOP cares about our soldiers, sailors, and airmen and women. They’re just another pawn to be moved around the GOP chess board, another bright, shiny object to be dangled from a string. McConnell is as stupid and petty as his empty headed overlord.

Trump and McConnell are already losing the messaging war. McConnell keeps framing this as an “illegal immigration issue.” Noting could be further from the truth. This is not an illegal immingration issue, it’s a hostage situation. These kids did not choose to become illegal immigrants, they had no say in the matter. That’s like saying that a six year old chose to become a hostage by going into the bank with his father just before the place got held up. And the longer this goes on, the worse it will get for the Republicans, Trump’s childish petulance and name calling may be cute and funny when it doesn’t matter, but when peoples lives and health are in jeopardy, they want leadership, not temper tantrums and name calling. I know, I’ve got skin in the game.I get a check every month from the Pension Benefits Guarantee Corporation. The money is actually from the defunct United Airlines pension plan that they defaulted on, but the PBGC is a federal agency, and right now, I have no idea if that electronic transfer is going to take place on February 1st or not.

The Democrats have no choice. Ending this government shutdown must come through a negotiation for something more substantial than just another empty promise and another short term continuing resolution to provide “breathing space” for negotiations. If the end result is nothing more than an extension, of whatever length with nothing else accomplished, then the Democrats may as well not have wasted everybody’s time and emotion in the first place. We’re about to find out if there’s any bite behind the Democrats bark.

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