Does This Deficit Make Me Look Fat?

It's the question that strikes terror into the heart of every new husband.  His wife emerges from the bedroom and asks, "Does this dress make me look fat?" 

Happily married men will tell the newbie husband this is not the time for honesty.  Repeat the following phrase and commit it to memory: "You look great, honey."  Then shut up.  Don't go overboard and tell her she could be mistaken for a supermodel.  She wants reassurance, but not outright baloney.

We humans can go for years believing we're plump, or chubby, or maybe could stand to lose a few.  Then one day it happens.  The evidence that we are actually fat smacks us right in the face.  Sometimes it's an unfortunate photograph snapped from behind.  Other times it's the truth straight from the lips of a preschooler, such as the time my son came running out of Library Story Hour and yelled, "Mommy!  We have a new story lady and boy is she fat!" 

Our capacity for self-delusion can be boundless.  Deep down, we realize that we're kidding ourselves, and everyone we know realizes that we're kidding ourselves.  But they all have their little fairy tales, too.  It's a tacit agreement: "I won't tell you that dress is hideous if you won't tell me my haircut is ghastly."

Little white lies, spoken so feelings won't be hurt, are one of the foundations of a civil society.  We baby-boomers ran around during the sixties and seventies blathering that the problem with everyone over 30 was that they just weren't honest.  Now those same boomers say patently dishonest things like "Fifty is the new thirty!"  Give me a break. 

So after years of being literally fat, dumb, and happy, the unthinkable happens.  A new neighbor or coworker says, "It's nice to meet you!  When's the baby due?"

And you're not pregnant. 

When people are faced with truth long denied, they can do one of two things: accept it and work to change the situation, or shoot the messenger.

In January 2011, the Tea Party came to Washington in the form of a Republican House of Representatives.  They immediately started telling the truth:

  • America is drowning in debt.
  • The deficit is unsustainable.
  • Medicare is broke.
  • There is no Social Security trust fund.
  • The Obama stimulus was a trillion-dollar failure.
  • ObamaCare is a job-killing nightmare.

It's like the freshmen congressmen told the ruling-class elites, "You're fat!"  The response from the president and his party was predictable and boring: the Tea Party wants to take away your health care and kill your grandmother, blah, blah, blah.

What was surprising was the vehement negativity from the Republican establishment.  Inside-the-Beltway conservative royalty flocked to friendly radio and TV shows and tut-tutted their disapproval.  Mind you, they weren't bothered over fourteen freaking trillion dollars of debt.  Oh, no, it was the Tea Party Freshmen who upset their sensibilities!  Bill Kristol, discussing the intransigence of the House freshmen in refusing to vote with Speaker Boehner, actually looked as if the Fox studio was filled with a bad odor.  I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd lifted a pomander to his nose.

The Tea Party broke the rules.  For decades, the elites of both parties have contentedly lied to themselves and each other.

"We're not fat -- maybe a little puffy, but closing a few tax loopholes will take care of that."  "Here, Senator, take a little more social spending.  I know how much you love it."  "Please, Congressman, help yourself to all the corporate welfare you want.  It's your favorite!"  "Fat? Not at all!  That budget is absolutely divine!"

Meanwhile, the debt got bigger and bigger.  Up 'til now, Congress has been the morbidly obese airline passenger who keeps asking for more and more seat belt extenders.  The 2011 Tea Party is the flight attendant who looks at the passenger and tells him the unvarnished truth: "You cannot fit in that seat."  Washington, and those whose livelihood depends on the status quo, are furious.  How dare they tell me the truth?  When are these people going to learn how things are done around here?

When I look at a Tea Party congressman like Jim Jordan, I think of that great statesman, Simon Cowell.  Simon was the American Idol judge whom everyone loved to hate.  When faced with a truly terrible singer during auditions for the television talent show, Simon would actually say things such as "That was atrocious!  What in the world made you think you could sing?"  To which the hapless auditioner would invariably reply, "My family says I'm a great singer!"

While the other judges would try to let the kid down easy, Simon would look him square in the eye and inform him that his family had lied to him his whole life, and it was time for him to face the fact that he couldn't sing.  It was harsh and uncomfortable to watch.  But millions of Americans loved it.  We loved watching someone unapologetically telling the unvarnished truth.  And we hunger for someone to speak the same unvarnished truth in Washington, D.C.

Please, Tea Party congressmen, keep telling the truth.  Those who've lied to themselves and each other for decades are going to scream and attack.  But America will cheer.  Honestly!

Carol Peracchio is a registered nurse.

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