Government Shutdowns, Amnesia, and Blame

 

Winston Churchill is often quoted as having said, “We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out.”

How true that is. The words we say sometimes become the words we must later eat. If they turn out to be true, they must apply to us. If they turn out to be false, then we are proven false. Either way, our words we must eat.

This weekend the American public witnessed a government shutdown, the first in 5 years. This is the first time in U.S. history that a government shutdown has occurred while the White House, Senate, and House of Reps. all being controlled by a single party. The shutdown is still ongoing.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThe last govt. shutdown in the U.S. Congress was in 2013, during the Presidency of Barack Obama, and lasted 16 days. About 800,000 federal employees were put on leave, another 1.3 million still required to work, though without knowing when they would be paid, as no paycheck could be sent during the 2-week shutdown. Various media outlets reported various reactions.

It just so happens that during the 2013 government shutdown, private citizen Donald Trump declared to the world that a government shutdown was completely the fault of the executive office. When asked by a reporter who should be “fired” because of the shutdown, he indicated the Chief Executive Officer of the government:

“Problems start from the top and they have to get solved from the top and the president’s the leader[…]When they talk about the government shutdown, they’re going to be talking about the president of the United States, who the president was at that time, and that in a shutdown, ‘the pressure’ was on the president.”

On Fox News Trump went on to say that when the government shuts down it’s because the President is not a good deal-maker. These word were spoken by the man who allegedly wrote a book called The Art of the Deal.

So, according to the President himself, via his words half a decade ago, when the government shuts down it’s mostly the fault of the President.

I guess that’s especially true if he wants one to occur.

Last May, during his presidency but before the current shutdown, President Trump tweeted, “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!”

Of course, according to his press secretary, he didn’t mean his words at all.

Regardless, his words in 2013 were either true or false.

If true, then this current shutdown is his fault, because he’s the President. His words.

If false, then the previous shutdown was not necessarily Barack Obama’s fault, and/or Donald Trump was either lying to gain favor or incidentally demonstrating ignorance of how the government works.

Not a single interpretation is flattering to the man’s character, except the interpretation that his words only mean what he and his press secretary says they mean, when they mean it.

This is not to say whether President Obama was largely to blame for the 2013 shutdown. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. But if he was, then the same is true now for the current president. And if he was not, then there is another lie we can add to the list of lies told by the current president about the former president.

Two days into the 2018 shutdown, President Donald Trump has blamed the Democratic party, who controls neither Congress nor the Executive branch, for the shutdown, including the deferred pay to military employees.

So it’s time for the man to digest his own words. According to all his previous words on the subject of shutdowns, here are a number of conflicting facts about a government shutdown:
a) A government shut down is the president’s fault.
b) A government shutdown is what the country needs right now.
c) A shutdown hurts government services, including the military.
d) A shutdown doesn’t hurt services, which all stay open.
e) A shutdown is good for the economy.
f) A shutdown means Democrats are in control and we need more Republican victories.

Which of these is true? Or rather, when are they true?

The answer is simple: Whatever you need your constituents to believe at the moment.

What if both major parties are to blame? What if shutting down, like so, is built into the nature of the U.S. democratic system?

We are in no short supply of constituents with amnesia in this country. We’ve got so many people on the right and left attacking one another, you’d think they forgot who the real enemy is.

Meanwhile, legions of churches are still up and running.

One day, all other governments will shut down for good. Jesus shut down only once, for 3 days, and won everything. He’s the best governor I have.

Peace

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