By Jay Kirell
The year was 1983.
The average home was worth a little over $70,000. The average income was a little over $21,000. Rent was a little over $300. You could buy a new car for less than $8,000 and moments later fill it up for $10.
Also, my mother enrolled me in pre-kindergarten on Long Island. I was four years old and what I recall about this time in my life is probably as far back as my memory goes.
My family lived right along the NYC/Long Island border and enrolled me in this class – a half-day program with maybe 20 kids. It had two teachers and two classrooms and those classrooms had names over the doors.
Over one door was written: Bunnies.
Over the other: Squirrels.
I ended up learning later on that the two animals represented the skill level of the students in them.
The Squirrels were the 4-year-olds who could tie their shoes, knew their name, possibly had the ability to write their name.
The Bunnies were….not.
I ended up in the Squirrel class. Which I’d imagine is a good reflection on my mother, since her son who just hit the age cut-off days earlier had been graded a head up over some kids who were nearly five.
What brought this long-forgotten era back into my mind was the House Republican’s government shutdown stare-down with the White House.
Right now the Republicans in the House of Representatives are having a crisis. They have leadership who wants to be responsible and move to fund the government and a caucus that isn’t paying attention. That caucus – The Tea Party – doesn’t understand the function of conservative government is to make progress happen at a slower pace – not to completely grind to a halt because of a hissy fit.
In other words. The bunnies and the squirrels are in the same classroom, and the teacher can’t do his job.
Made doubly worse, this is the teacher:
Under normal circumstances John Boehner would just be chalked up as one of the worst Speakers of the House ever, since he’s presided over the least productive congress ever – except he’s been played a historically bad political hand.
Now, before I continue I’m not saying pity John Boehner. I don’t agree with much he stands for – and worse, how he’s conducted himself as Speaker since 2010, but even he wants to keep the government operating.
Not because he’s not conservative.
Not because he doesn’t want to de-fund “Obamacare.”
But because John Boehner is one of the few experienced elected officials on the Republican side of the aisle who recognizes the real-life –not conceptual– consequences of a government shutdown. And that’s before even getting into how awful he realizes the optics will be for his party if they get tagged with causing the shutdown.
He’s a teacher crying out for help, stuck with the caucus equivalent of students who would rather eat the crayons than write with them.
These people Boehner has the misfortune of calling his colleagues are going to eventually cost him his job and probably his party’s status as majority. It’s just a question of when.
Graduation day is a little over a year away. Let’s see if America is ready to send the tea party back to the Bunnies room.