A few weeks ago, Ann Coulter announced that she was bored of American politics and was spending her days watching Turner Classic Movies. I confess that, when it comes to Beltway melodrama, I too am fighting vainly the old ennui, and minded to plump up the pillows and settle back with a bucket of bonbons and a beribboned Shih-tzu for an all-night Norma Shearer marathon. At least, unlike Washington, there’s a chance you may catch something you haven’t already seen a hundred times before. For example, I’ve a yen to see Roberta (RKO, 1935), in which Irene Dunne sings:
Days I knew as happy sweet sequester’d days . . .
I believe that was the last known use of this blameless and mellifluous word until it was conscripted by the political class for this month’s dreary Mayan Apocalypse of the Month thrill ride. Say what you like about those Mayan guys, but they only schedule an apocalypse once every 5,126 years. Only Washington would try to pull it off every six weeks. If I understand correctly, by the time you read this, the planes will be dropping from the skies; the drip-feeds in every emergency room will be dry; every creature on the endangered species list will have broken free from our pristine federally manned national parks to be left for roadkill in the potholed asphalt of America’s crumbling interstates; you’ll turn on your bathroom faucet only to find the town reservoir choked with fecal coliform; the Ebola virus will be rampant across Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire, and other swing states, where it will nevertheless enjoy higher approval ratings than Marco Rubio and every other prospective GOP nominee. The sequester supposedly cuts $44 billion from the federal budget — or from the rate of growth of the federal budget. Whatever. $44 billion is about what the United States government borrows every nine days, so it’s not a lot. But it’s apparently responsible for everything that matters in American life.
That being so, maybe it would be easier to reinstate this critical $44 billion and cut the other $3.8 trillion, which is apparently responsible for nothing other than Harry Reid’s beloved federally funded cowboy-poetry festival and the cost of the dress uniforms for the military detachment accompanying the first lady at her Oscars appearance. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, warned of “over 170 million jobs that could be lost” thanks to the sequester. There are only 135 million jobs in America, but the sequester gods are so powerful they can eliminate every job in Canada, Britain, and Germany too. Why, because of this weekend’s looming Mayan Apocalypse, President Obama declined to deploy a carrier to the Persian Gulf, concerned that it might be left on the other side of the planet completely sequestered with no fuel to limp back home and insufficient stores in the mess-hall larder to cook up federally compliant slop. So, when the mullahs go nuclear and drop the big one on Tel Aviv, it will be the fault of the Republicans for failing to agree to a prudent, balanced, fiscally responsible plan — like the Senate’s latest deficit-reduction proposal, which, as is traditional, increases the deficit (by $7 billion).
It’s not just the U.S. fleet and air-traffic control and clean water that have been swept into the garbage can of history by Sequestageddon, but even the most venerable Beltway colossus. In time the Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble, but surely Bob Woodward is here to stay — or so we thought until he ventured some very mild criticism of the president’s negotiating technique, which appears to be a cross between a suicide-bomber and Cleavon Little taking himself hostage in Blazing Saddles. In a flash, Woodward’s four decades of loyal service were forgotten and the court eunuchs of the Obama media turned on their own: He’s about one news cycle away from being revealed as on the take from the Koch brothers and the real father of Trig Palin.