, Newburyport, MA

October 19, 2013

Plante: Washington is kicking the problem down the road

Bill Plante
Newburyport Daily News

---- — I had just finished with the sports section when Freddy came walking in, newspaper under his arm and him grinning ear to ear.

“You won one somewhere,” I said as he made himself comfortable on his side of the booth.

“Haven’t we all?” He asked as he waved to the waitress.

“Well, no, not really,” I said. “All they’ve done in Washington is kick the ball down the road until February.”

“You make too little of a good thing,” Freddy said. “We can focus now on the world we live in until next go ‘round.”

“Ah, it’s going to be cynicism this morning. Right?” I asked.

“Realism,” Freddy said. “The House, the Senate, the President -- even the Tea Party all came away with less than somewhat and more of what they have to live with until, oh boy, they get to do it all over again.”

“In an election year,” I said.

“Correct,” Freddy said. “Did you think that what just went down was about something else?”

“Well, you’ll correct me if I’m wrong, but shutting down the national parks was not a way to win the confidence of the voters,” I said.

“It backfired because it couldn’t discriminate,” Freddy said. “People from both parties as well as independents trying to get into national parks or whatever? It was a loser for both parties all the way.”

“There was no choice,” I said. “Congress was at loggerheads, and it wasn’t only Republicans against Democrats. Republicans were as big a hurdle for Boehner on some issues as Democrats were.”

“Behind it all it was what divided the two parties,” Freddy said.

“Obamacare?” I asked.

“It’s here to stay, but not without changes. Politically speaking, it’s a Republican B’rer Rabbit asking the Democrat B’rer Fox not to toss him into the cabbage patch,” Freddy said.

“Republicans like what it’s being called, because they see it as an albatross Democrats are going to have to wear around their political necks because there are bound to be bugs in it that’ll take years to clean out.’’

“You’re mixing your metaphors,” I said.

“Whatever,” Freddy said.

“What’s really going on are Washington power plays. Parties need to rule Congress. If they get the White House too, it’s political bonanza.”

“That’s been working for the Democrats,” I said.

“They love the Tea Party because it’s an albatross around Boehner’s neck.” Freddy said. “They have to get the House back. Obama needs it big time for the last two years of his presidency.

“That’s why Obamacare means so much to him. He’ll be remembered in a lot of ways -- first of his race as President, gave the order to take out Bin Laden, ending wars in the Mudulled East -- but it’s what he can make of the next two years that will matter the most, short term, and a good part of that time will deal with separating the wheat from the chaff of Obamacare.”

“So you were smiling about that?” I asked.

“No, I was smiling about the Sox winning another one before coming home to Fenway to go all the way before you changed the subject,” Freddy said.

“There they were in the bottom of the pit last year, and here they are within one game of being at the top because they realized it you throw too many splitters, bad things can happen.

Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and a staff columnist.