O'Reilly: There's a pony somewhere inside the Beltway
William F. B. O'ReillyWilliam F. B. O'Reilly
O'Reilly works as a corporate and political communications consultant. He
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Eighteen percent of Americans, and just 8 percent of Republicans, are satisfied with the way the country is being governed, according to a Gallup Poll released Friday. It's the lowest government satisfaction rating in the poll's history.
Eighty percent of Americans in a new AP/GFK poll describe Republicans as unlikeable and dishonest and not compassionate, refreshing, inspiring or innovative. Democrats aren't faring much better. Sixty percent of respondents now say both parties stink (paraphrasing) and that a major third party is needed, according to Gallup.
I'm surprised the numbers aren't worse. Who could be satisfied with the federal government? The 18 percent reporting satisfaction must either sleep during the day, or they're trying to be funny.
People often talk about the "Beltway bubble" -- that atmosphere of myopia in which our nation's leaders reside -- but what's going on in Washington is beyond nearsightedness. It's something far more degenerative. Until around Thursday, I actually thought House Republicans had a plan. I didn't say it aloud, but I thought they were pulling some type of rope-a-dope. Now it's become clear that they're just taking an old-fashioned whoopin'.
This was the plan?
Democrats tempted to gloat shouldn't. Because, while the Republicans may be acting childishly, they're the grown-ups in D.C. They are at least flailing their arms about the broken track ahead. President Obama and the Democrats refuse to do anything real to stop the train from going over the fiscal cliff. Their plan is national economic suicide.
President Reagan was an eternal optimist. One of his favorite stories to tell was about a boy who saw optimism in everything, so much so that his parents thought he suffered some pathology. Off to the psychiatric he went.
The clever shrink devised a scheme. He shut the boy into a stall piled six feet high with horse dung. "This'll do it," he assured the parents waiting outside the stall. But when the door opened, there was the little tyke bursting with enthusiasm and furiously digging into the pile of manure.
"What are you doing?," his mother demanded.
"With all this horse manure," the boy replied sporting an excited grin, "there's gotta be a pony in here somewhere!"
This story is perfect for just such a time as we're in. There's got to be a pony in all this, but where on earth could it be?
Partisan Democrats see this as the end of the GOP. Some conservatives think the Washington meltdown will finally teach Americans not to place their trust in government. Republicans thought the shutdown would give them a chance to highlight the debt issue and the flaws in Obamacare, but they did not have a disciplined message.
Some, including yours truly, have noted just how little the shutdown is affecting a majority of Americans. Perhaps this is a time to reassess every federal program.
In French cinema, the heroine typically dies in the end -- one dramatic last gasp before Fine rolls across the screen. But not in American movies. Here, the yearling crawls out of the muck and finds his legs.
There is a pony in here somewhere. Our job is to find it. No one has so far.
William F. B. O'Reilly is a Newsday columnist and a Republican political consultant.