Sequestration? Not Scary. Try Fiscal Death Match

Of Course, Congress Has Fled Again At Just The Right Moment

I'm trying really hard to get all worked up over sequestration, but it ain't taking.

Congress has been no help. They called it a weekend on Thursday and went home the day before the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts was scheduled to begin.

There are two ways to look at Congress' flight:

The sequester is not that big a deal.

It is never a bad thing when Congress is adjourned.

The stock market didn't seem to be too worried about sequester, either. In fact, the Dow shot up over the 14,000 mark on Thursday.


Either investors didn't feel sequester was anything to worry about, or, like the rest of us, they experienced a surge of optimism because Congress had left the building.

I don't know, I suppose I would be more panicky about sequestration if I knew what it actually was. I'm like most Americans in this regard.

A Washington Post-Pew poll last week found that only 25 percent of Americans are following the issue, and only 18 percent understand what the consequences are.

The reason for the lack of interest on the part of the public I think rests in the name. Unlike, say, "fiscal cliff" or "Great Depression," sequester just doesn't sound all that ominous. Maybe if it had a catchier title like, say, "Fiscal Death Match" or "Recovery Suicide Watch."

Polls also show that 45 percent of voters blame Republicans in Congress for the sequester, while 32 percent blame President Obama.

This gap is only going to get worse for Republicans, because when it comes to messaging they have the same problem the Democrats had when Ronald Reagan was in the White House.

Back during Reagan's presidency, whenever there was a standoff with Congress, the Republicans would trot out Reagan, a charismatic, charming, former actor, to make their case. To counter, the Democrats would go with then-Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill. O'Neil' was a masterful one-on-one politician, but compared to Reagan he came across on television as a hack out of "The Last Hurrah."

And remember when Bill Clinton and the Newtster faced off over the Republicans decision to shut down the government? Who won that PR battle?

This time around, as the uber-articulate Obama uses the bully pulpit and mass media to pin the sequester on Republicans, they are left to counter with the likes of John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and the always warm-and-fuzzy Eric Cantor.

The Pope's Red Shoes

Among the details about Pope Benedict XVI stepping down is this: A Vatican spokesman revealed that the former pope will wear a plain white cassock but will "renounce" his trademark red shoes. Hold on — "renounce" his red shoes? Renounce means to give up a claim to, usually via a formal public statement. Another definition of renounce is to repudiate, which seems kind of strong. That said, I believe at some point I may have repudiated the leisure suit.

Anyway, Benedict's flashy red loafers have an interesting history. In 2005, they caused some controversy when it was rumored they were from Prada, which as we all know is the devil's preferred brand. In 2007, the shoes earned Benedict an award from Esquire magazine as "accessorizer of the year." Alas, from those heady days, the pope heads into retirement, where he will wear the most non-controversial of footwear, the brown loafer, about which someone once asked: "Did you ever feel the world was a tuxedo and you were a pair of brown loafers?"

Praying Over Secondhand Clothes

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