’Twas the week before Christmas on Capitol Hill
where exhausted lame ducks had to pass a tax bill
while Pelosi in kerchief and Harry in cap
put the spurs to the solons for a last liberal lap.
But their chances were slim — it was time to concede
that the writ had run out on their mandate to lead.
The 111th had been most productive
of pages of laws — but had that been constructive?
As the Dems in November had had a shellacking
now the GOP stalwarts were grinning and cracking
that the new year would bring a big change in direction
so why compromise now, pending full resurrection?
Then out on the lawn there arose such a clatter
that they sprang from their desks to see what was the matter.
Away to the window they flew like a flash
tore open the shutters — ’twas a tea party bash!
Boehner and Cantor and Ryan they came
the new coursers were dashing and not at all lame
and they came bearing Christmas lists straight from the voters:
No more credit from China! Sell Government Motors!
No more Christmas-tree spending!
Fill stockings with coal!
Tell the Federal Reserve to remove that punch bowl!
On health care they vowed to repeal and replace;
NPR to defund; the free market to embrace.
Yet the new guys were not Grinches or Scrooges at all
merely true to the voters’ intent in the fall.
The teas are not party poopers — they just want a feast
of their own, not compelled by the tax-and-spend beast.
They want sugar plums cooked with a private finesse
doubt that jobs are created by public largesse.
They are generous and caring, just like Old St. Nick
but think Uncle Sam’s bailouts a profligate trick.
And their best gifts deferred — though we have now hit the skids
we must not leave a mountain of debt to our kids.
All right think tanks agree: There the learned profess
opportunity, freedom and well-earned success!
The new speaker seems sober and keenly alive
to the lessons he learned back in Newt’s ’95.
Although tea party-true, he will eschew revolution.
Be accountable now, is his fiery locution.
Yet as dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly
resolutions of New Year’s oft scatter and die.
Sacred cows are stout beasts — have they all really vanished?
Will those earmarks and porkbarrels really be banished?
Will the voters, presented with fiscal restraint,
say the spirit of ’10 was not real, just a feint?
Now add two complications to heighten the drama.
To begin: The enigma of Barack Obama.
He is a man of great energy, skill and resource
and the one, in a crisis, who is still on the horse.
He has had a bad year and seems sullen and fraught:
Guantanamo’s open, Afghanistan’s hot,
cap-and-trade was defeated, the economy’s slow,
there are those on the left saying he has to go.
Yet our presidents do have a way of rebounding,
and this basketball buff could recover his grounding.
A break to the center risks primary fights
but could win independents and reclaim the heights.
Furthermore, some new crisis is sure to arise
to confound all our planning, no matter how wise.
In Iran, mullahs soon will wield missiles with nukes.
North Korea is run by committable kooks.
Euroland is in turmoil, re: how much to lend —
what cannot go on forever is certain to end.
Today’s world is too dangerous, the tremors too scary
to place all of our faith in TV’s thrust-and-parry
or to think that election results specify
what a government does when disaster is nigh.
But perhaps, just perhaps, we will resolve foreign trouble
while we dig ourselves out from our deficit rubble.
Maybe ’Bama and Boehner will smoke peace pipes instead
of those foul-smelling weeds they cannot kick (so it is said).
Maybe statesmanship yet will emerge from our schism —
thus renewing our lease on exceptionalism.
The American spirit is strong and contagious;
our freedom is precious; our people, courageous.
With help from each other this slump we will withstand
and give thanks to the soldiers defending our land.
So during this season of faith, hope and light:
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
James Bowman is the author of “Media Madness: The Corruption of Our Political Culture.” Karlyn Bowman is a senior fellow, and Chris DeMuth the D.C. Searle Senior Fellow, at the American Enterprise Institute.