, Newburyport, MA


December 22, 2012

Who will flinch first as fiscal cliff nears?

Big Freddy — a bag in each hand when he arrived — set them on the floor, pushed his bulk into his side of the booth and collapsed onto his bench seat.

“Merry Christmas,” I said.

“I don’t think I can do this anymore,” he said.

“That’s what you said last year,” I said.

“I had the pip last year,” Freddy said.

“And what do you have this year?” I asked.

“What we all have,” he said. “The best game of Flinch in a long time.”

“That game’s been around for years,” I said.

“Not that one — the one down in Washington,” Freddy said.

“The stalemate over the budget,” I said.

“With big-time bets going down on both sides,” Freddy said.

“Obama wins in a walk away — four more years and hold onto your hat with Democrats building their lead in the Senate and planning a takeaway back in the House two years from now.”

“Boehner’s having his troubles there,” I said.

“He couldn’t get the hard right to buy the deal he was making with Obama to keep from going over the cliff — which is within spitting distance - so he shuts down trying.”

“So, it’s over the brink we go?” I asked.

“Not necessarily,” Freddy said. “He didn’t call for a vote, so they’re still breathing.”

“But Obama won’t budge either,” I said.

“Maybe, but a wiggle might do,” Freddy said.

“With time running out, somebody’s going to have to do what they don’t want to do to avoid catastrophe,” I said.

“Best game we’ve had out of Washington in a long time,” Freddy said.

“Game? This is no game,” I said. “This could be a disaster.”

“Could be — maybe not,” Freddy said. “Both parties are looking ahead. Democrats want the House back so they can own Washington.

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