Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Beltway Debt Ceiling Noh Play Winds Toward Final Act

Ah, the excruciating screech of annoying Japanese stringed instruments. The tooth-jarring shriek of annoying Japanese woodwinds. The mind-numbingly inscrutable Japanese Noh play that has held the Washington Beltway in its thrall for all these many months with all its many classic elements, might, just maybe, be trundling and lumbering to its inevitable final curtain. Like all Japanese Noh plays, it has been excruciatingly tedious. Like all Japanese Noh plays, it has been interminably long. It has been incalculably stylized. It has been performed with jerky posturing and screeching dialogue that has all been very symbolic and reassuringly predictable. And, most importantly, all the players have worn masks.

The playbill said that unless lawmakers raised the federal government's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by Aug. 2, the Emperor and all his Taishos and all their Samurai wouldn't be able to hold their courts or flail their peasants or send out any of the 55 million Social Security checks languishing in Treasury Castle.

But, the scheming Republican clan would not deign to raise the debt ceiling unless all the rice harvests and all the rice-wine barrels in the land were first handed to the great plutocrat gods.

And so, the actors paraded onto the stage, posing their poses and posturing their postures as the woodwinds shrieked and the strings screeched. Every strutting samurai with a plan fell to dust and became a moaning ghost. Every moaning ghost became a strutting samurai with a plan.

Finally, the leaders of the two great clans presented their final, final, schemes to slay the demon, and great Lord Obama (it is a Japanese Noh play) cast his favor toward Senate Majority Leader Lord Harry Reid's (R-NV) plan (it's not a very good Japanese Noh play), as Lord Harry Reid was from Lord Obama's own favored clan. The other clan's House Speaker Lord John Boehner's (R-OH) plan was scorned by all, not least, shockingly but predictably, by his own treacherous samurai, who disdained it not because it was a scornful plan, but because it wasn't scornful enough. It may not be a very good Japanese Noh play, but it is accurate.

As Lord Boehner lay dying over his ruined plan, his trusted vassal, Lord Eric Cantor (R-VA) plaintively cried out to his disgraced and shamed samurai "to stop grumbling and whining and to come together as conservatives and rally behind the Speaker and call the President's bluff."

"I do think we're going to have some work to do to get it passed," croaked Lord Boehner as he contemplated his entrails, "but I think we can do it."

The Japanese woodwinds wailed plaintively.

To no avail. "I am confident that as of this morning that there are not 218 Republicans in support of this plan," crowed the most treasonous samurai, Rep. Jim Jordon (R-OH) of the hideous Republican Study Committee, fondling his snakes and toads Tuesday.

If that weren't enough, the even more hideous Club for Growth, a special snake-and-toad interest group that was very important to the Republican Clan, had damned and condemned Lord Boehner three times over their steaming cauldron.

The Japanese strings screeched implacably.

If as few as thirty or forty of Lord Boehner's ronins and ninjas failed to rally to his banner, his implacable foe, the great House Minority Leader, Lady Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) could whip her retainers into voting against Lord Boehner, plunging him into the great flaming cataract beneath the Mountain of Eternal Exiles.

Then, if as few as five or seven wavering members of the Republican Clan, fearful of offending their plutocratic gods with the inevitable collapse of the celestial bond markets should Lord Obama not get his debt ceiling hike, could quietly, quietly touch their sacred stones to Lord Reid's plan, and send it to Lady Nancy in the House. 

Finally, finally, it would be up to Lady Nancy, with the thundering volcanic cataclysm of Death Mountain bursting behind her, to gather some thirty or forty wandering vassals from the shattered remnants of Lord Boehner's once-great army, add them to her own legion of 193 brave samurai, and, gaining the mystical number 218, cry her war cry to the heavens, whereupon everyone would fling themselves into the abyss of the volcano, saving the celestial bond markets and placating the plutocratic gods.

Then, Lord Obama would be able to send out the 55 million Social Security checks languishing in Treasury Castle.

Of course, being a Japanese Noh play, which is unfathomable beyond imagining, there can be no telling who are Lords and who are samurai, and who are mere ghosts, what with all the masks and posturing and all. There is no telling who's who, or whether Lord Reid's plan might become Lord Boehner's, or whether Lord Boehner's plan might have been Lord Reid's plan all along.

There is no telling even who's doing what, or who they represent. Never mind that a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll of 1,001 peasants revealed that, should the debt ceiling not be raised and the great Engine of Commerce grind to a halt, collapsing the celestial bond markets, 39% would blame Lord Obama, but 42% would blame Lord Boehner's Republican clan.

Never mind that 63% of peasants surveyed said they'd seek new congressional Lords to send to the Capitol, as opposed to just 30% who said they were happy with their present congressional Lords.

And, never mind in the least that 72% of peasants surveyed said that the wealthy plutocrat gods should have their earthly taxes raised to pay off the nation's debt and preserve Medicare and Social Security.

Despite everything the peasant chorus might sing in the background, the great Lords will pray and burn incense and placate their plutocrat gods, balancing the budget on the backs of the rice-harvesting middle class and, being America, not Japan, their unrevered and abandoned elders.

Because that is what happens in every Noh play on the Washington Beltway.

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