The shutdown shuffle is the latest craze

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Rick Horowitz
April 7, 2011

Not my fault. Donít blame me.

The shutdown, I mean. If thereís a government shutdown and the whole thingóor even most of the whole thingócomes to a crashing halt, and the phones donít get answered and the parks are closed and the forms donít get processed and the checks donít go outÖ

Itís not my fault.

Iím glad we could clear that up. Because the last thing I want to see happenóeven more than I donít want to see our political leaders at each othersí throats and the lights going out and important services suddenly going missingóis to be held even vaguely responsible for even a tiny little bit of it.

For that matter, if thereís not a government shutdown, because they finally reached some sort of compromise, but you didnít want them to compromise, and as far as youíre concerned they gave away the store when they should have just stood firm and made the other guys cave instead of wimping out at the very last minuteÖ

Thatís not my fault either. Just so you know.

I feel much better now, now that weíve put that all behind us. Iíve been really worried about a shutdown, the same as our leaders in Washington have been really worried about it. But what Iíve been really, really worried aboutóand this is the same as our leaders in Washington, tooóis that I might get blamed for it.

This wouldnít be fair, of course. The blame, as it always does, would actually lie elsewhere. But who wants to take that chance? The chance that somebody might misunderstand my role, oróworse yetódeliberately distort it for partisan advantage?

As it happens, I was in Washington earlier this week, but certainly not to stir up more antagonisms. In fact, I was hoping that cooler heads would prevailóassuming there were any cooler heads still left in Washington. And personally, I was willing to go the extra mile. (Particularly when I got off at the wrong Metro stop that one time.)

But as I stand here today, I canít tell you that my presence in Washington at the height of the crisis led anyone to step back from the abyss. If Iím wrong about that, and reasonableness suddenly does break through and the crisis is averted, then naturally Iíll be happy to take whatever credit I can.

But not the blame.

See, Iím not the one who made promises to my constituents that I had no way of making happen, let alone promising them that I wouldnít compromise on anything importantóand they thought everything was importantóno matter what.

Iím not the one who didnít do the math: If there are a few dozen of us whoíve committed to do X, but there are at least as many dozens of others whoíve committed to do Not-X, then the most likely result isnít going to be either X or Not-X, but something in between, and letting my constituents think otherwise was amazingly careless of me, not to mention dangerous to my future political health. (Can you say ďprimary challengeĒ?)

But Iím also not the one who decided that if I didnít make those promises, and if I did the math and explained the math, I might never be elected in the first place.

Those were somebody elseís decisions. Not mine. So youíll certainly want to keep that in mind if it gets ugly, or if this shutdown showdown doesnít go exactly the way you want it to go.

Not my fault.

Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at rickhoro@execpc.com.

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