Dan Majestic writes from Washington: Oh the drama and the tension and the nail-biting climax. Well, an anti-climax as a matter of fact as the saga is not yet over.
Yes, I am talking about the supposed race against the clock in Washington to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, a silly term in itself that stands for America losing around $600 billion in tax and government spending cuts that were signed into law way back when George Bush Junior was in the White House. For four long years the Obama Administration and most of the people on Capitol Hill knew about it but didn’t do anything. And it was only after the most unexciting and predictable presidential election took place in November of last year that they all got very worried about America falling from that ‘cliff’ and started blaming each other for the approaching cataclysm. All in the best possible traditions of modern American politics.
The drama continued all the way to the very last day of 2012, with President Obama bravely and very publicly cutting short his Christmas holidays during the process and flying back to Washington to hold talks with the congressional leaders. Both the Republicans and the Democrats were briefing against each other like mad, trying to score points out of the mess that they themselves had created. If any single one of them, including Mr Obama himself, had stopped for a moment and thought how stupid they looked, they might have resolved the issue much earlier. But by-partisanship had gone out of the window very soon after the current leader got into the White House so there was little chance of that happening. In fact, President Obama has polarised American politics to such an extent that I suspect he won’t be able to achieve anything during his next term in office and might as well concentrate on his golf and pen his memoirs while letting that giant of politics, Joe Biden, run things.
The really hilarious bit came when President Obama held his last press conference in the White House in the dying hours of December 31st, having been greeted by wild applause and loud cheers when he entered the room, with some people obviously expecting that he was going to announce the deal having been reached. But no, Mr Obama just told hacks that he was spending New Year in Washington and that the deal had not yet been reached, although the signs were looking very good. The anti-climax of that appearance was obvious but White House hacks are so pro-Obama these days that they managed to put a brave spin on it and cheered their idol regardless. If only there was a proper satirical show on the American box somewhere the material for the sketches would have been coming thick and fast.
The deal that freezes tax and across the board government spending cuts had been approved by the Senate in the early hours of today and is now going in front of the House of Representatives which is supposed to approve it tomorrow. But the funniest thing of all is that the deal will work only for two months and would then need to be renegotiated. So in a sense the politicians took everyone for a ride by claiming success where there was none. In fact, any sane person in America would be quite right to decide that the federal government sucks and that the US Congress is stuffed with incompetent buffoons who need to be paid nothing at all for their so-called ‘hard work’.
President Obama will come out of this farce the biggest loser of them all. It’s all very fine for him to pretend that he has managed to avoid a financial meltdown and even get concessions from Republicans; but he was instrumental in allowing the crisis to get out of control. If he were a Republican President he would have been slaughtered by the media and might have faced calls to stand down. For what is the point of the US President if not to prevent such crises occurring.
And another thing: Mr Obama should really drop his habit of pretending to be a cool cat who copes well with pressure. It makes him look very uncool. As I have said already, he should thank his lucky stars that there’s not a single proper satirical TV show in America or he would be toast.