The good news is this: Congress has reached a budget deal. Yes, the U.S. Congress. And not when facing a deadline. America’s guests have done a thing that is rare in this day—their jobs. Here are the details; I’m most enthused at the idea that enough members showed enough maturity and leadership to actually work out some agreement, one which means we and the world can go two years without having to fret about a government shutdown.
Now to the better news, which I would actually classify as a Christmas miracle if I were given to assuming that God takes sides in American politics (or sports): the mainstream Republican Party is showing signs of finally standing up to the conservative extremists. Speaker of the House John Boehner was the first to publicly, honestly, express his exasperation with the tea partyish crowd that has pushed the GOP so far to the edge of American politics that they have to stand on each other’s shoulders a mile high in order to see the center. He reportedly got even more “honest” in private:
“They are not fighting for conservative principles,” Mr. Boehner told rank-and-file House Republicans during a private meeting on Wednesday as he seethed and questioned the motives of the groups for piling on against the plan before it was even made public.
“They are not fighting for conservative policy,” he continued, according to accounts of those present. “They are fighting to expand their lists, raise more money and grow their organizations, and they are using you to do it. It’s ridiculous.”
The conservatives of course defended themselves, which is perfectly fine; I hope the center and the far right keep this back-and-forth going ad infinitum (we’re already well past ad nauseum). For however long they fight with each other—and these things don’t last as long as you might wish them to—it keeps them from concentrating their fire outside the circle; maybe that keeps the extremists from winning more elections and coming into real power to remake America in their own frightening image.
One more politics thing: did you see who was cited by PolitiFact for the Lie of the Year? Yep, our president. Selected by a reader poll from among ten finalists, “If you like your health plan, you can keep it” was chosen by 59%, the winner going away and embarassingly ahead of popular favorites like “Congress is exempt from the healthcare law” (Ted Cruz), “No U.S.-trained doctors will accept Obamacare” (Ann Coulter) and “Muslims are exempt from Obamacare” (chain email). President Obama’s catchy little reassurance actually worked its way up over the years from “half true” to “pants on fire” and now Lie of the Year. Congratulations, Mr. President, for finding a way to help the self-defeating conservatives survive the circular firing squad.