Gather 'round kiddies, and Wonkronk will tell you how that traditional Japanese Noh play being performed right here in our nation's Capitol is turning out. Called The Budget, it features all the classic elements of Noh theater. The show is interminably long, excruciatingly tedious, highly stylized, and features jerky posturing and screeching dialogue. It is all very symbolic, rigorously regimented, and completely, reassuringly predictable. Oh yes, and everyone wears masks.
In our Noh Play, President Barack Obama, the Republican-led House and Democrat-led Senate clashed over the Budget. Actually, they clashed over half a budget, as this was the 2011 Budget, and the fiscal year is already half over. And being a highly stylized, very symbolic, rigorously regimented, and completely, reassuringly predictable Noh play, it all turned out exactly as Wonkronk explained it would in the original Noh Play From the Beltway post from February 19.
Because that's the best thing about the Noh play. It's always the same, even when it's completely different. It must be the zen thing.
The Republicans demanded that $61 billion be slashed from vital public services while coddling the richest, most powerful evil Lords of the Earth. Obama and the Democrats said they would never, ever stand for such a horrible affront against the sacred cranes of Fuji, and would only slash $33 billion from vital public services while coddling the richest, most powerful evil Lords of the Earth. Tea Party Republicans were incensed. Unless the Democrats did what the Republicans wanted, they would strangle the celestial Continuing Resolution and shut down the federal government. Annoying Japanese stringed instruments screeched and scratched for weeks.
Three times they went to the mountain, and three times they all agreed to do nothing.
Now everyone has agreed to slash $38.5 billion from vital public services while coddling the richest, most powerful evil Lords on Earth. The Tea Party didn't get the billions and billions in cuts they wanted, and the Democrats lost far more billions and billion in cuts than they wanted, so the miserable outcome was hailed as a victory for bipartisan cooperation. And, because it's a Noh play, and no one ever imagined putting revenue on the table, the budget shortfalls everyone shrieked and screamed about never got addressed. Instead, because of the billions and billions of dollars in cuts to vital public services, countless millions of Americans, especially the poorest, most elderly and infirm among them, were simply ruthlessly body-slammed repeatedly onto a forest of razor-sharp samurai swords.
There were details to hash out, which might run on for another week. Or two. It is, after all, a Noh play. And the most zen thing about the Noh play is that the whole time you thought you were the audience, you were actually the miserable dead samurai ghost character.
But, most importantly, the richest most powerful evil Lords on Earth were pleased.
Japanese Noh theater comes from the 14th century. As in any horrible medieval fiefdom, there's always another Noh play right around the corner. The Washington Beltway is no exception, for the 2012 Budget Noh play has already begun.
So, the annoying Japanese stringed instruments will screech and scratch once again, and all the players will don their masks and get on with their jerky, stylized posturing. Whatever happens in the next Budget Noh play, the outcome will be the same.
The richest, most powerful evil Lords of the Earth will get everything they want, and you, the miserable ghost, will be ruthlessly body-slammed repeatedly onto a forest of razor-sharp samurai swords.
Except this time, you won't have Social Security or Medicare.