The Country That Cried Wolf

Guess who managed to compromise after all?

My 22-year-old daughter is home for the summer, which means the family TV is turned to an endless round of “reality” shows: Teen Mom, Real Housewives of Every Locale Imaginable, 16 and Pregnant, Master Chef, Project Runway. Some of these shows have ostensible purposes—desserts get made, outfits get created—but they’re really all about the same thing: drama. Specifically, interpersonal drama, ginned up to fever pitch by participants who consider themselves to be the centers of the universe and everyone else mere pale moons orbiting them at a distance. The daily cares of unwed mothers of toddlers rise to Shakespearean levels of histrionics: You won’t get a freaking job! they scream at their partners. Your mom is spoiling our baby! Most peculiar of all, many of these shows have post-op sessions in which a host sits with participants as they watch choice footage of themselves behaving badly and proceed to dissect it with all the gravitas of college professors deliberating semiotics, except that the vocabularies are far more limited.

That’s pretty much what we can expect from our politicians, too, now that all the wolf-crying seems to be dying down and legislative sausage is getting made.

The name-calling and stonewalling on display in Washington these past few weeks is positively Real Housewives-worthy. We had it drummed into our heads at every turn: The nation’s future is at stake! Default! Credit crisis! Debt ceiling! Everyone stood and shouted at everybody else. President Obama delivered tongue-lashings. John Boehner barked right back. John McCain rose from the dead! And then, miraculously, after a series of disastrous setbacks threatened to plunge the country’s economy into total chaos—just as we all suspected all along, the job got done.

What a stupid-ass way to run a country.

Here’s an idea going forward: less shouting, less hysteria, fewer faux lines in the sand, and more goddamned governing. More thought about the people who voted for you and less devoted to the lobbyists who buy you off. More concern for the people you’re supposed to be serving. Less disgusting hypocrisy (and yes, we do mean you, Joe Walsh.) Fewer threats, less self-aggrandizement, and please, please, less OMG-the-sky-is-falling grandstanding. Because you do know what happens to politicians who cry wolf again and again, don’t you? If you don’t stop behaving like a bunch of cheesy, classless reality-show housewives, someday there’s gonna be an election and nobody’s gonna show up.