Paul Greenberg

This latest deal up in Washington is still in the huffing-and-puffing stage even if no one, perhaps not even the negotiators, can be sure just who's huffing and who's puffing.

How will this cliffhanger end? Will it be a continuing serial, like "The Perils of Pauline"? Will it turn out to be a wild Thelma-and-Louise ride to oblivion, or just a big build-up to that ever-elusive Grand Bargain that isn't grand at all but just Kicks the Can Down the Road? A Niagara or just a leaky faucet?

The punditry can scarcely discuss these goings-on, or even what's not going on, without falling into cliches. The results of all these meeting to date: Not many. But the associated fanfare is as gaudy as any Copland or Ravel could compose. And even theirs got boring after a while.

As for the Surprise Ending, it may be no surprise at all. Just another muddle-through. The best prediction yet of what all these summits between president and speaker will produce comes from the Sunlight Foundation. That outfit is dedicated to finding light, any at all, in cloud-covered Washington. Here is its assessment of how this over-hyped little drama -- call it the Boehner-Obama Show -- is going to turn out:

"We aren't going to learn what we need to understand -- the issues and their importance -- but instead we're going to be given self-congratulatory vignettes and staged disclosure."

Then it'll be time to send in the clowns for the not-so-grand finale. Till then, the show must go on. To no clear end.

My forecast: Cloudy. With no chance of rain.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.