Reality TV Takes Over D.C.

The greatest reality TV on the air right now is “The Real Nincompoops of D.C.,” also known as our federal government.

Sometimes we find ourselves in a place where there is never a shortage of topics to discuss, and for some, reality shows are seen as escapism from the real world (I know, quite the oxymoron). These past few weeks have been a target rich environment for the juvenile, hypocritical and ridiculous actions by the representatives we elected to serve on our behalf.

As any discerning reality show savant will attest the key to a good reality show is an arch rivalry, preferably one that leads to a cat fight. The two key ingredients are massive TV coverage and over-inflated egos. In Speaker of the House Pelosi (Part Deux) and President Donald Trump, we have a rivalry on the scale of Seinfeld and Newman (Seinfeld), Jim and Dwight (The Office), and practically all the cast members of any reality show of your choosing.

There providing the “Breaking News” coverage is CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, applauding or jeering Pelosi’s suggestion that a constitutionally mandated responsibility of our government, the State of the Union Address (SOTU), should be postponed. Pelosi’s move was politically motivated, an attempt at one-upmanship. What we need less in D.C. is measuring success by who can one-up the other side, something both sides seem incapable of grasping.

Pundits applauded, suggesting Pelosi “just pulled a major power move on Donald Trump (CNN),” “Pelosi’s on the right track with plan” (CNN) for delaying the SOTU, while suggesting “Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been playing a very hot hand lately” (NBC). Other than Fox News, Pelosi’s move was seen as “bold” (Washington Post), and greeted with outright approval with statements such as “Nancy Pelosi Might Have Just Blown Up the State of the Union. And That’s OK” (Politico). What Pelosi, and most in the media, didn’t realize is that Pelosi (and the pundits) brought a lemon to a knife fight. They knew Trump would respond, probably with one of his infamous Tweet tirades. Once again, egos got the better of commonsense.

Applauding Pelosi’s move, their giddiness would be smashed a mere 24 hours later when the pundits, the Democrats, and Pelosi learned a valuable lesson. President Trump fishes with dynamite. The day after Pelosi’s SOTU letter, Trump sent his own correspondence informing Pelosi he was cancelling her scheduled military flight on an overseas visit. Touché Mr. President. Where Pelosi’s move was promoted as “bold,” the response to Trump’s salvo was reported much differently.

The alphabet media outlets (ABC, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, etc) and their allies in print (Washington Post, New York Times, etc.) had a much different opinion, calling Trump’s actions “childish” (CNN), using headlines sure as “Schoolyard Shutdown: Trump Keeps Stooping Lower” (NY Daily News), and stating “a transparent bit of retaliation for Ms. Pelosi’s taking his big television moment away from him – not to mention a blatant attempt to drag the speaker down into the sort of cheap playground tussle at which the president excels…if anyone has the chops to manage Mr. Trump’s brattiness, it is Ms. Pelosi” (New York Times). Yeah, that is what all of this about, having the chops.

When I say there is enough blame to go around, I am not restricting that to Trump and Pelosi, but to the media and those allies riding the coattails of both major parties, encouraging an unobtainable victory. All we can really do is shake our heads and hope the juvenile antics on both sides will stop. Don’t hold your breath.

Both parties are entrenched and the self-proclaimed “leaders” are looking more for political victories than solutions. Sadly, stuck in the middle are the men and women of our military, especially those of the Coast Guard (the first branch to be denied their pay due to the shutdown). For the men and women of the Coast Guard (affectionately called Coasties and Guardians), this shutdown has been a double-edge sword. On one side, our Coasties are still serving us, living by their ethos (https://bit.ly/2sAz5iX), all without pay. On the other side, the outpouring of community support is overwhelming and touching. As much as donated food and services are reassuring and appreciated, they deserve better. For them, this is not a reality show, but real life, with real consequences.

I have no doubt this shutdown will end, with each side trying to spin the end result as a victory for their “side.” I have also no doubt that after the shutdown, business will go on as usual, and that is what we should be concerned about. Because business as usual in D.C. is dysfunctional, as this most recent reality show episode has proven.

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