Tough Love

It's called an intervention, and its time has come.

Hey, Tom...Ben...Alex.  Been a long time since I've seen you guys.  Whatcha doing here?

I asked them to come, son.

Father?  You're here too? What's going on, anyway?

Sit down, son.  We need to talk.

Well, that would be nice some other time, but right now, I'm a little busy.  In case you haven't heard, I've got a bunch of crazy right-wingers trying to keep me from paying my bills.  Can you imagine the nerve of these people?  Why, if they had their way, they'd destroy my reputation!  Ruin me!  Next thing you know, it would cost me a fortune to borrow the money I need just to make ends meet...if I could borrow it at all.  The only thing I can do now is try to get all my friends to gang up on them and get them to change their mind.  In fact, I have another press conference scheduled right now, so if you'll excuse me...

I'm afraid we can't do that.  You're not going anyplace until we get done with you.

What?  You're holding me hostage?  Is that what this is about?  I thought you guys were supposed to be my Founding Fathers, but you're just a bunch of terrorists in disguise!

You're not a hostage.  The only reason we're even bothering is because we care so much about you.  It's called an intervention and, frankly, it's a long time overdue.

Hey, I don't need any of this intervention stuff!  I'm doing fine.  All I need is a couple of trillion to hold me over until after the election, and it'll all be okay.  It's not like we haven't been through this a hundred times before.

Are you kidding?  Son, have you taken a good look in a mirror recently?  Look at yourself.  You're a fraction of what you used to be.  You've lost practically all of your manufacturing industries.  Your domestic auto industry wouldn't even be around anymore if you hadn't stepped in to bail them out.  Your schools are turning out thousands of young people totally incapable of reading or writing a coherent sentence, let alone making a contribution to society.  You've built up this entourage of hangers-on that follow you around like some kind of rock star, but it's only because you pay them and feed them, buy their houses for them, even give them health care, and all you ask of them is that they keep voting for you.  You throwing around cash like a drunken sailor on shore leave, and what you can't take from the people who work for a living, you're just printing yourself.  And now, you're in debt up to the eyeballs of your GDP, without any idea how you're going to make ends meet, let alone pay any of it off.

All right, I know I've had some money problems, and I really will do something about it someday, maybe appoint another commission or something, but right now, I'm facing a real crisis. I need a financial fix right now.

And if you get the money again this time, why should we believe you're going to change?

Look, we're already talking about cutting billions...

Don't try to play your number games with us.  Save them for the media, who don't know any better.  We  know perfectly well that you're talking about baseline budgeting, and those cuts you talk about are nothing but a lie.  And you know how I feel about lies... 

I can raise taxes!  Our taxes are a smaller percentage of our GDP than they have been in years.

But how much of that is because there are so many people who don't even pay taxes?  And at a time when unemployment is climbing through the roof, you really want to take more money from the private sector?  From the people who really create jobs?

Hey, we can create millions of jobs if we have a big enough budget.  Look what we did with the stimulus!

Did I mention how I feel about lies?

Look, since 1962, we've raised the debt ceiling 72 times.  So what's the big deal now?  This should just be politics as usual.

Maybe that's the problem.  We've had too much politics as usual.

Waaaaait a minute.  I know what's going on here.  You've been listening to those Tea Party kooks!

Actually, son, it's more the other way around.  I think it's more a matter of they've been listening to us.

Are you kidding?  Do you know what they're trying to pull?  They're trying to force us to amend the Constitution -- the one you guys wrote -- before they'll give me my money!

I think your courts have pretty well desecrated our Constitution already.  Besides, all those Tea Party types are really asking is for Congress to approve a balanced budget amendment so the people can decide whether they want it for themselves.  Remember them?  The people?

The people?  What do they know?  Most of them have never even seen an Ivy League school, let alone graduated from one.  They wouldn't even know what to eat or drink, or what kind of car to drive or what they should watch on TV or even whether they should or shouldn't grow crops if we didn't tell them.  And you, Ben, you're an old newspaper man.  Pick up a paper, or turn on the news, and just see what the people really think.

You mean see what your enablers think.  You've surrounded yourself with a group of elites and intellectual snobs who don't have the faintest idea what the real world is like.  The majority of people are sick and tired of slick-talking politicians lining their pockets and buying votes with the legacy of their children.

Look, fellas, I know you mean well.  But this just isn't the same country that you remember.  Back in your days, we were just a few colonies.  Now, we've become the greatest nation on earth, and much as we all want to be fiscally responsible, we can't just turn on a dime.  We're like a big battleship.

Actually, son, I was thinking more of the Titanic.

C'mon, I'm the United States of America!  If I want something, I'm entitled to have it!  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go borrow some money so we can keep this thing going.  And you can go chop down some cherry trees, or whatever it is you do these days.

Very well.  We've tried our best to help you see the error of your ways, but I guess all we can do now is pray.

You go right ahead and do that.  Oh, but don't say that too loud.  You know.  It might offend somebody.

If you experience technical problems, please write to