Cliff Diving

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Memo to Washington: SEE YOU AT THE BOTTOM!

Norm Macdonald famously joked that there are only two titles in cliff diving. Grand Champion, and Stuff On A Rock. The same applies to fiscal cliff diving, except the stuff crawls from under a rock, instead of splattering all over it.

Obama accidentally ended up with Republicans right where I want them. I'd say it's right where HE wants them, but since, by his own admission, Obama's an 80's moderate Republican, clearly he doesn't want to win this. But he may end up winning by default. Because winning lives at the bottom of the cliff.

Don't get me wrong. There are lots of sharp rocks down there. The end of extended unemployment benefits is the worst of the bunch. Government agencies, in anticipation of a post-cliff deal, are planning for business as usual when it comes to paycheck withholding and general operations, so the immediate impact will be dulled nearly to the point of irrelevancy.

Then, January 3 can happen, and the real-life inspiration for Annoying Orange, John Boehner, will probably keep his job as House Speaker. This will create a magical, roughly two-week window in which Boehner will feel like he's not in a position to lose power by doing something, and he might do something.

The danger is that before then, someone else might do something. Like Kent Conrad, alleged Democrat, who suggested splitting the difference between Obama's too-generous compromise, and Boehner's ridiculous "Plan B" and calling it "the middle". As I said when Boehner's "Plan B" failed, both sides want to do awful things, and it's only their incompetence that keeps them from it.

But on Jan 1, the status quo changes, and since there's nothing more dangerous in Washington D.C. than a change in the status quo, there will be enormous pressure to return to something sort of like it.

Plus, there will be a symbolic victory. The Bush tax cuts will have expired. It's too much to ask that the resulting tax cuts enacted by Obama will be called the "Obama tax cuts", because Democrats never cut taxes even when they do, but we can at least stop talking about the Bush tax cuts like they've been helpful in the slightest toward the middle class.

It's not a real victory, but real victories in politics are rarely real or victories. Symbolic victories, on the other hand, get written in the history books and referenced for years later on the Sunday talk shows, precisely because they aren't real.

So let's dive off the cliff with a smile on our faces. Who knows? We might end up Grand Champion!