Maybe Jimmy the groundhog was in a crappy mood. After all, he had just been hauled out of a warm limo into glaring TV lights and the freezing Wisconsin winter. Or maybe Mayor Jonathan Freund was a little too chummy; slapping on a look of mock-seriousness as he leaned in to hear the rodent’s prediction about the coming spring. Whatever the reason, Jimmy took a bite out of hizzoner’s ear. The mayor jumped, the groundhog wranglers scrambled, and it was hilarious.
Well, maybe it wasn’t so funny for the mayor, but I suspect many residents in the ironically named Sun Prairie are still giggling.
And in the aftermath of what I’m now calling “Nibblegate,” I’ve had an idea about how we might improve government. Every time politicos want to stage a dog-and-pony …or mayor-and-large-rat … show, we ought to make sure we have a cranky critter on hand to keep them in line. (And no, Congressman Darrell Issa does not already have this job.)
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Imagine: a politician steps up to the microphone to score political points with a budget that has no chance of passing. Halfway through his second paragraph, the squirrel on his shoulder is twitching; by the time he says “incentivize,” it is frothing at the mouth; and as soon as he unfurls “I know all Americans will join me …” CHOMP!
This would be fantastic. A true “bite”-partisan solution to needless political posturing.
“I’m calling for a
Congressional investigation into …” CHOMP.
“Our party is trying to help people, while our opponents are just protecting their own interests …” CHOMP.
“I am outraged that such accusations …” CHOMP. Perhaps we could get those two sharks from Katy Perry’s halftime show. Kidding aside, every week in D.C., players from both sides snatch up mics and let fly with patented nonsense to whip up their side, demonize the other, and frustrate all attempts at cooperation. They do it because they don’t think voters can figure it out, or won’t know any better. This makes us all less informed, promotes partisan animosities, and in a word: bites. Maybe it’s time something bites back.
About the columnist: Tom Foreman is a political correspondent for CNN.