Okay, so this is just a trial balloon, something maybe slightly better than what the Magic 8-Ball told me. But throughout this whole government shutdown/debt ceiling debacle, I can’t get this one thing out of my mind: the cookie diet.
There’s an often-told story in my family about the cookie diet. According to my father, it went like this…
When he was a boy, my father LOVED cookies. He begged for cookies morning, noon, and night. Always, always, he wanted cookies. So finally, when he was maybe seven, his mother put him on the “cookie diet.” He was to only eat cookies, no matter what. First day, his brother and sister got regular breakfast, and he got a plate full of cookies. AWESOME! His lunchbox contained only cookies. COOL! That night, for dinner, everyone else had regular dinner; he had a plate of cookies. NICE!
Now, my grandmother was a smart woman, and I have to believe that she made a point of cooking extra-delicious meals for the duration of the cookie diet. And I’m guessing you can figure out how the cookie diet ended about two weeks later: with my seven-year-old father weeping and exclaiming, “No! No more cookies! I want dinner!!!”
So I’ve watched the extremist members of the House make their demands. And as I’ve thought about how, if I were John Boehner (and thank goodness, I’m not), I might try to keep my speakership and not destroy the country, the cookie diet keeps coming to mind.
Here’s what makes sense to me (and clearly, I’m not a Republican, so all bets are off). What if John Boehner, dealing with a significant portion of his caucus who are emotionally seven years old, decided to put them on a cookie diet? “Fine. You want to shut the government down? Go for it! Michele Bachmann, you’ve got everything you ever wanted! Randy Neugebauer, go out on the Mall and yell at park rangers! All of you, go for it!” Of course, all in the hopes that they would satisfy the right-wing media and somehow sate themselves on catastrophe. After all, the government shutdown, while painful for many, many Americans, is nowhere near the disaster that a government default would create. “So let the Tea Partiers eat cookies for a couple of weeks!”
Perhaps, in my vision of how the cookie diet plays out, Boehner is willing to step up before things get out of hand and discipline his wards. Much as my grandmother would never have let my father endanger his health eating cookies forever, Boehner intends to step in before a default and exert some parental control over his miscreant charges. It would certainly go a long way towards explaining the inconsistencies in his statements over the last week, where he’s first stated that there will be no default, and then backtracked, claiming that there are no guarantees. But in the meantime, he’s let his wards get the wigglies out of their system. They have gotten to posture and preen before their constituency, and maybe, just maybe, once the debt ceiling arrives, they may be a little more amenable to eating their vegetables.
Just a theory. I guess we’ll all find out in the next few weeks.