The shutdown, as told through Batman

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it?

Unless some Congress(wo)man threw a fit in the last couple days or somebody at the White House forgot to mail the President’s signature then the United States government is open for business.

Alright! Dust off your cowboy boots because America is back in the saddle and ready to take on the important business of running the country; like inspecting imported food and telling you how much water you should drink a day.

Answer: All the water. Drink all the water you can, every minute of every day … anything less than “all the water” will one day result in your death.

So the shutdown came and went. Some people were impacted in very real terms while others were simply told they couldn’t go camping in some blighted hellscape that people sadistically designated a “national park.”

I do not like camping.

Many of us watched the shutdown happen and summed up the experience with a collective “… wait, what?”

Exactly. With all the rhetoric and grandstanding and carefully worded press releases and less-than carefully worded speeches shouted into megaphones it became difficult to understand how, exactly, we got to the point where the government just shuts down.

Most of us know that the Republicans and an anti-government group within their ranks known as “The Tea Party” didn’t want The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, to come online. The persistence of Tea Party members of the GOP against their own party’s wishes and the president’s refusal to negotiate any new terms regarding Obamacare lead to a stalemate in Congress, resulting in no new budget being passed, the government being shutdown and a close call regarding our country’s claim to always paid our debts.

So, why are the Republicans, prominent fixtures in all levels of the United States government since the Civil War, working with a group that works to dismantle the government?

Go back to the financial crisis of 2008. Republican President George W. Bush bails out the collapsing banking industry with a check full of taxpayer money in the amount of one kagillion dollars. This was the birth of the Tea Party; they didn’t make a distinction between Democrat and Republican, they just didn’t want the government to bail out the banks … or do much else, really.

The country had gotten pretty tired of G.W. Bush by 2008 and the Republicans knew they couldn’t use him in their next campaign for the presidency. Think about that: W’s own party didn’t want him anywhere NEAR their candidate.

So, with an exciting candidate energizing their opponent’s base as well as undecided voters looking for a little hope and change, the GOP knew they needed a new, highly energized base of their own.

Enter, the Tea Party.

Using the tried and true method of spending billions of dollars the GOP, themselves the overseers of massive government expansion during W’s two terms, convinced this anti-government group that they were one of them, just so long as they voted for the elephant.

Well, they voted Republican. Then they started voting in the Republican primaries. Then they started holding office with a great big R in front of their name. Then they showed the Republican party that they don’t really kowtow to political leadership because, you know, government is never the answer … even if it means shutting the whole thing down.

Just like the Joker in “Dark Knight Returns.”

Batman had been hitting the established Gotham mafia where it hurts most, in their wallets. The mob, tired of losing millions and unable to stop Batman themselves, starts working with the then unknown Joker to take out the Batman and go back to business as usual.

Alfred (if you don’t know who Alfred is … you’re probably not reading this column) gives Batman a speech about how, due to his successful crime fighting (as Batman is wont to do) he has made the mob desperate, and in that desperation they have turned to a man they don’t fully understand.

A man that works with the mob until they no longer represent his interests, because they never did in the first place, then burns all their money to send a message to “the people.”

Now, I do not think of President Obama as Batman; frankly with all the drone killings and cyberspying he’s skirting closer to Lex Luthor than anybody else. But if you think the Tea Party doesn’t regard mainstream politicians as members of organized crime you are sadly mistaken. And since I’m certain the Tea Party thinks of themselves as star spangled warriors riding golden eagles to glorious victory, maybe someone as delusional as the Joker isn’t too far off.

So there you go movie fans! Everything you’ve ever needed to know about the cause of the shutdown, brought to you with enough Batman to keep it interesting. Stay tuned next February, when the current stopgap spending bill expires and we have to go through this whole circus all over again. For the 2014 shutdown I’m thinking “Ghostbusters” … maybe “Jurassic Park.”

Copy Editor Wes Burns is a Sunday columnist. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Wes Burns at 641-753-6611 or