The media have proclaimed the end of civilization for the third time this year. Sure, the mail will still run on time. Sure, the police will still fight crime. Sure, you'll still receive your Social Security check and your Medicare and your food stamps. But by golly, if we don't get this horrific government shutdown solved, the Sharknado is a-comin'.
Sen. Tom Harkin led off the hysteria by explaining that a government shutdown was "as dangerous as the breakup of the Union before the Civil War!" Virtually every front page in the country devoted its top headline to the dreaded government shutdown. Wall-to-wall coverage of saddened Americans decrying the temporary closing of the Statue of Liberty dominated the newscasts.
Who was to blame for this egregious situation? The media had the answer: Republicans! The highly excitable Joan Walsh of Salon.com suggested via Twitter, "the govt shutdown is the end result of a 50-year GOP push to make govt=welfare and welfare=black people," adding, "That this crisis hit under our first black president, over 'Obamacare,' isn't an accident; it was inevitable." The abominable New York Daily News printed a cover of House Speaker John Boehner atop the Lincoln Memorial, a la House of Cards, with the caption "House of Turds." McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed then tweeted an article from that website labeling the cover "Perfect." CNN's Dana Bash described the GOP as "Kamikaze." The Washington Post ran a piece, "9 ways to punish congress for a shutdown". The piece included a picture of Boehner with the caption "Line 'em up and shoot 'em."
Meanwhile, the media encouraged President Obama and Democrats not to negotiate. Even as Obama insisted that he didn't need to give up anything for a deal, and even as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid turned back House continuing resolution after House continuing resolution, even rejecting a House request for a conference committee, the media fumed at supposed Republican intransigence. Politico celebrated Obama's supposed "display of resolve and strength that could redefine his presidency." Gloria Borger of CNN said, "In a way there's really nothing the president can offer Boehner in the way of help." Obama is the hero of the media's faux morality play; Boehner is the villain.
So, will the world end? Of course not. Mandatory spending under the 2013 spending levels is close to the (SET ITAL) entirety of all federal spending (END ITAL) in the last years of the Clinton administration. And we all remember what an economic nightmare those years were. The stock market (SET ITAL) rose (END ITAL) the day of the shutdown. When the feds spitefully attempted to shut down the site of the World War II memorial, World War II veterans simply removed barriers and toured the site, with one police officer explaining, "I'm not going to enforce the no stopping or standing sign for a group of 90 World War II veterans. I'm a veteran myself." Even those federal workers furloughed are reportedly slated to receive back pay, making this a paid vacation.
But let's pretend for a moment that the world will end if the government does not dump billions into the Environmental Protection Agency. Let's assume that businesses everywhere will begin using human flesh in their Soylent Green thanks to Food and Drug Administration cutbacks. Why isn't President Obama negotiating?
The answer is obvious: He has no interest in doing so. The end of the world is (SET ITAL) good news (END ITAL) for him. That's why the media are playing it up. That's why Obama sent a letter to every single federal employee complaining about the government shutdown and has turned the White House website into a propaganda effort against Congress. President Obama doesn't govern unless his party dominates the government. Otherwise, he campaigns.
And it's campaigning season. So sit back. It's going to be a not-so-bumpy ride, even if the media would have us think otherwise.