I spent enough lunch hours doing Junior High yard duty to have heard every variation of “It’s not my fault. It’s Tommy’s fault.”
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Why would it be Tommy’s fault? One may ask. Because it was Tommy’s stupid idea for Johnny to try to kick the kickball over the library roof. Yes, Johnny did indeed kick the kickball that fell woefully short of the roof and crashed through Mrs. Watkins, the Librarian’s, office window. Confronted with this reality, however, Johnny maintains an existential innocence.
“It’s not my fault,” Tommy insists. “Johnny kicked the ball through the window. I didn’t tell him to kick it through the window, I told him to kick it over the roof, jeez.”
The very grown-up and all-too common first response to Johnny would be, “If Tommy told you to jump off the bridge would you do it?”
“Well, no, that’s just stupid,” Johnny would acknowledge. And he’d be right — which puts the kibosh on the very grown-up and all-too-common first adult response to such a situation.
“Ok, suppose Mary told you to put a thumbtack on the teacher’s chair, would you do it?” the next adult query of Johnny would ask.
“Maybe, if she gave me some of her brownies,” Johnny might confess. Again, severely limiting the effectiveness of the adult’s quest for a teachable moment.
So whose fault is it really? Is it the one who suggested the stupid idea in the first place or the one who agreed to go along with it in the second place? In Washington, the answer is simple — the answer is “Yes!”
Tea Party favorite Sen. Rand Paul has been on the news shows several times lately declaring that the whole sequester was the president’s (lame) idea and therefore, whatever unpleasantness transpires is his fault. (I’ve yet to hear any interviewer follow that statement up with, “Ok Johnny, but you kicked the ball through the window, so why aren’t you at least equally to blame?”)
Likewise, I’ve heard various Democrats decry the Republicans for obstructing everything else and thereby making the sequester calamity inevitable. (“Yeah, we came up with a lame idea. So, why did your guys go along with it?”)
Evidently, teachable moments are as rare in Washington as they are on the junior high school yard.
President Obama isn’t interested in solving the financial crisis. He just wants to neuter Republicans and spit in their eyes before the next round of national elections. And there might be some truth to that.
Republicans only want to show their base and the NRA that they are tough enough to stand up to the “socialist, atheist, tyrant” and look good for the next national Republican primaries. And there’s probably some truth to that as well.
And with all this truth piling up (as the old joke goes regarding manure four feet deep in the barn), there’s got to be a pony around here somewhere. Wouldn’t you think?
Now at the eleventh hour we hear some Republicans saying that the catastrophe probably won’t be as catastrophic as it has been billed. If that turns out to be the case, the Republicans reportedly will say that they “won.”
On the other side, if half the country comes down with a bad case of the scours (formerly the scowers) from ingesting uninspected chicken livers, then the Democrats will have “won.”
All of which makes about as much sense as saying that Mrs. Watkins “won” because she got a new window.
I can’t wait for midnight tonight. That’s when all the sequesters actually take effect, except for all the ones that don’t and all the ones that have been postponed, not to mention all the ones that got renamed or re-allocated and all the ones that never really existed anyway. That said, all the remaining ones are supposed to kick in at midnight tonight or at noon on May 14 if not some other time.
I also can’t believe I’m about to say what I’m about to say. Politics, frankly, have become pretty boring. I also can’t wait for Daylight Saving and baseball season. And if I get sick from bad bologna or die in a fiery plane crash because there was no air traffic controller on duty, I’m going to be really upset and looking for someone to blame. Hopefully it’s not school-yard Tommy or Johnny, because as we know, nothing is ever their fault.
Chris Daley is a staff writer and columnist for the Mountain Democrat. His column appears each Friday.