Sunday, October 26, 2014

‘2010 — the sequel’

Posted on Nov. 11, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.

Richard Leib

Well, that was interesting.

Last Tuesday is, of course, what I’m talking about. Two billion bucks in advertising, a pair of campaigns that started way back when, and here we are pretty much back to the government we had two years ago. It does cause one to ponder.

Maybe we can call this result, “2010 — the Sequel.” It features mostly the same cast and only a slightly revised storyline.

In this sequel, we are going to see how the president and the congressional geniuses handle the fiscal plan they created. I’m referring to the “sequestration procedure” that was meant to force the “Joint Select Committee” of the “Budget Control Act of 2011” to come up with a bipartisan solution to ...

Nah. Trying to talk about the bits and pieces that led us to the so-called “fiscal cliff” is boring. Maybe that’s why it didn’t come up much in the campaign. Campaigns don’t do boring. Campaigns do mud wrestling and invective hurling.

Or maybe it didn’t come up because it’s hard to explain the games of Congress. Its machinations and maneuverings often make me think of the British game of cricket.

In cricket, one team bats, trying to score, while the other team bowls and fields, trying to dismiss the batsmen and limit the scoring by the batting team. Tell me that doesn’t sound like politics to you.

Understanding the complexities of governing shenanigans requires way too much time and effort for average folks who are trying to raise a family, produce an income and enjoy their lives. It’s easy to see why so many pay attention only to the slogans and snarky remarks of a campaign.

This time around, base supporters on both sides seemed especially shrill. But, as the saying goes, “When one foot is in fire and the other on ice, on average one is comfortable.” And with no case being convincingly made by the candidates, the vote averaged out and we ended up with a status quo result.

We have the same president and the same divided Congress. And they’ll be facing the same problems in pretty much the same ways.

Some pundits are viewing this split-down-the-middle election as an indication that the U.S. is a hopelessly divided nation. Perhaps it is. But there have been many close and divisive elections.

In 1800 we didn’t have a president after 35 ballots in the Electoral College. Finally a delegate from Delaware changed his vote and gave Thomas Jefferson victory. In 1824 John Quincy Adams bribed the speaker of the House in order to break a tie and gain the presidency.

In 1916 Charles Evans Hughes was so far ahead he went to bed assured of winning. It is said that a reporter sent to see him the following morning was told by a butler, “The president is asleep.” “Well,” the reporter allegedly said, “when he wakes tell him he isn’t the president.”

We survived all of these and more.

Our immediate challenge is the fiscal cliff, but that’s just the December problem. There’s Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, a new debt limit squabble in February, implementation of Obamacare and automatic spending cuts that were signed into law in the 2011 Deficit Control Act. The list goes on.

It’s now the Sunday after the Wednesday morning after the Tuesday evening of the end of the election I call “2010 — the Sequel.” The problems we face will require solution-seeking, reasoned efforts.

Let us hope that this is one of those rare times when the sequel is better than the original.

Former Elkhart furniture store owner Richard Leib has served on planning committees in several industries. An avid auto fan, he raced in the 1972 coast-to-coast Cannonball Run. He has written on a wide range of subjects.