Saturday morning I was sitting at a sidewalk table at The Sandspur Cafe enjoying a morning that, though somewhat globally warmed, was otherwise quite pleasant. But suddenly I saw standing beside me my neighbor, Liberty Valiant. Liberty (who changed his name last year – he used to be Howard Snud), was wearing a tri-corner hat festooned with dangling teabags, which is the way he’s been decking himself out lately. He quickly joined me and, ordering a pot of tea began to exhort me to join the teabag revolution.
“Washington has failed to keep a balanced budget,” he argued, “we need to go back to the values of Ronald Reagan!”
“Reagan?” I responded, “You know Reagan actually plunged the country into heavy debt. And by the way, he also resorted to raising taxes in order to improve the situation.”
“That’s not true!” Liberty exclaimed, “The Ronald Reagan I know would never have done anything like that.”
“But it’s in the history books.”
“History books written by liberal professors,” he replied. Then, noticing my expression, he added, “No offense.”
“None taken, I guess. So what do the Tea Party’s alternate history books say about the Reagan presidency?”
“That Ronald Reagan defeated the Soviet Union, saved the POWs being kept in bamboo cages by the Viet Cong, invented the Internet, balanced the budget without raising any taxes, and when he died, took his place at the left hand of God.”
“Wow. No wonder you guys like to mention him all the time. And what do your Alternate History books say about Barack Obama?”
“Well, obviously he’s an African Communist who wants to kill our grandparents with death panels and replace our constitution with Muslim Shariah law.”
“Liberty, don’t you think we’re going to have trouble agreeing on anything if we can’t even agree on things like, ‘The president is a Christian,’ and ‘Reasonable governance depends on compromise?’”
“Compromise is a word the gutless use when they mean surrender. Real Americans never compromise! Never! Never! Never!” His face began to turn bright red and a series of strangled choking sounds forced themselves from his throat, so I rushed to pat him gently on the back.
“Hey, cool down, Brother Liberty, there must be a way for us to find some common ground here. I mean, for one thing we all want to prevent the United States from defaulting on its debts, right?”
Recovering from his fit, he looked me in the eye and asked, “Why?”
“Why?? Well, for one thing defaulting would force us to pay higher interest rates which would stifle our already weak economic growth. Unemployment would get worse and we’d very likely head into a double dip recession. That’s for starters.”
“Well maybe that’s what your liberal economic textbooks say, but that’s not the whole story.”
“Well, what does the Tea Party say the whole story is?”
“Sure, America would surrender its traditional position as the bedrock of the world economy. The dollar would collapse in value. The economy would plunge into deeper recession. Joblessness would get worse. But you have to look on the bright side.”
“Bright side??? What bright side?”
“Well, if all that were to happen, Obama probably wouldn’t get re-elected.”
Hey - You Forgot NPR!