July 30, 2011
By Jurek Martin in Washington
You go to the cinema or the theatre to see the stars perform. What happened on Thursday in the US House of Representatives was that hardly any of them turned up, the real drama was all offstage and the play never got to the final act. No wonder the national audience wants its money back.
Rarely has Washington’s theatre of the absurd been seen in such sharp relief as in the “debate” over Speaker John Boehner’s bill to cut spending enough to raise the debt ceiling for a few miserly months. Amid sound and fury signifying little and with the mercury over 100 degrees, the bill eventually passed yesterday afternoon after a balanced budget amendment was added to entice Tea Party supporters, 22 of whom still voted against. But it was quickly knocked back in the Senate. Posturing in Washington, sometimes known as the “optics”, is now a minor art form.
It wasn’t even a debate in the widely understood meaning of the word. The chamber was practically empty throughout, apart from the army of clerks, the poor bearded backbencher assigned to wield the Speaker’s gavel and the handfuls of congressmen from both parties designated to address the debt-ceiling issue because they serve on certain committees. Read More