Elliot: Panda monium


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So the government is going to shut down, and all the pandas will die.

Well, OK, you’re right — only the pandas in America will die; the Chinese pandas won’t much notice if the U.S. government shuts down. The Chinese pandas don’t even know the United States has a government. And they’re probably correct; right now, the score seems to be Chinese pandas 1, U.S. government 0.

And you’re also right: It’s the federal government that could shut down, not, say the Iowa government or the Iowa City government. Though with the latter and its War on the Impoverished, you kind of wish it would shut down and just go away. Maybe to Coralville.

Well, as much as I detest Coralville, even I wouldn’t wish the Iowa City City Council (except for Councilor Jim Throgmorton) on Coralville. That poor town has enough problems, including the ugliest mall (if that’s not a redundancy) ever and more debt than any graduating UI senior (as hard as that is to believe).

Much as I wouldn’t wish Gov. Terry Branstad on Nebraska, as much as I detest Nebraska. Well, I don’t really detest Nebraska; it’s just one big yawn that gets in the way of driving to Colorado. Of course, Terry Branstad is one big yawn, so maybe that’s a marriage of true minds — or something else Shakespeare wrote.

(The great Des Moines Register [and, for a few years, Gazette] columnist Donald Kaul once, or twice, described Branstad as Governor for Life. Little did he know how right he was. Of course, in the early ’70s, he was also right about Cambodia. I still wonder what happened to his Pulitzer Prize.)

Meanwhile, the federal government is going to shut down. Well, all signs point to that; I’m writing about the future, which is always dangerous, especially in a land where, it seems, nobody knows how to conjugate the future tense. (And I do mean nobody, outside of me.)

Meanwhile, back at the government shutdown, who’s going to notice? Not you and I, at least, not at first. Not seniors, who will still get their Social Security checks. Not the members of the military, who will still get paid. Not the Border Patrol, who will still be on the beat, keeping brown people on their side of the border, because we white Americans, deep down, don’t like brown people.

And who’s to blame for this shutdown? Well, President Obama, of course, for having the audacity of hope that a half-black person could be president.

And the Republicans, for having the audacity of having no hope.

The congressional GOPers are, for whatever reason, are following the lead the their tea-party contingent. Never mind that one of that contingent, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, is the Einstein of know-nothings. Never mind that, in the polls, the tea party gets around 22 percent of support (latest Gallup Poll) — which is even less support than Obamacare gets. (The curious thing about Obamacare is that Americans polled dislike it, but when it’s broken down into its component parts, Americans polled support those component parts. Americans can’t conjugate the future tense, either. And we have two future tenses. Go figure.)

So it seems as if Republicans, who can’t beat Obama in an election, have decided to beat him without an election. There’s democracy in action.

So the government is going to shut down, and all the pandas will die. This one’s on you, Republicans. Bear with it.

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