Duck Season! Wabbit Season! Daffy's Doom and the Games of the Great Sequester.

February 28, 2013

If the looming federal budget cuts weren’t such serious business, the drama being played out this week between Congress and The White House might be familiar comedy.  Think Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.  Duck season…Wabbit season…Duck season!  Think Barack Obama and John Boehner.  Close tax loopholes…you got your revenue…close tax loopholes!

Wargamers and game theorists will call the political playacting brinksmanship and tit-for-tat.  Playmakers call it strategy gridlock.  The plays are repeating.  No one is moving.  And the clock is ticking.

Of the leading actors, Barack Obama is more adept and better prepared.  Consider his plays, his script and supporting cast:

  • MIRROR GAMES:  The White House reports real numbers of localized impacts of sequestration, a cool-handed Mirror.   The play might also be a Red Herring to distract us all from the Mitch McConnell-lead GOP fact-police that, hey, the sequester was THE PRESIDENT’S IDEA — a Mirror they figure will work.  But Obama has countered well.
  • STRUT AND STUNT:  Ever the campaigner, Obama hits the road, bee-lining for Newport News, VA, and a backdrop of hard-hatted workers, all proud and nervous Americans who are fearing sequester-induced furloughs.  It’s a made-for-POTUS Peacock.  Speaker Boehner runs a Call Out, This is an unbecoming stunt!  And when that doesn’t work, a more indelicate Label, This is fear mongering at its worst.  But Obama’s Labels are stickier, notably his crafted bites of “self-inflicted wounds” and the country’s certain careering “from crisis to manufactured crisis.”
  • PROXY WARS.  Proof of the president’s playcalling prowess and war room readiness (how does he play 27 holes of golf with Tiger Woods and then do this?!), he is flanked by surrogates of the proxy type, well-messaged cabinet secretaries, like transportation chief Ray LaHood, who confirms that, yes, the sky is falling.  Be ready for long lines and flight delays, he tells the cameras gravely.  Not to be outdone, DHS Secy. Janet Napolitano tells the press corps, We’re all going to be a little less safe by Saturday.  GOP foes contend they’re just crying wolf, a defensive Recast that does little more than showcase the credible cabineteers, however well rehearsed.

If this analysis is any indication, come Friday, Barack Obama will have his way and John Boehner will be on his way.  Through the crisis of the cliff, The Speaker has been out-witted too many times and is so far unable to galvanize his conflicted caucus.  He’s simply more daffy than quick and, likely, he’ll be closing loopholes before Obama closes shipyards.

Post by Alan Kelly

Graphic credit:  Warner Bros.