All this grimness.
A shutdown. Name-calling in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Plots and games. Finger pointing and standoffs. A public reading of Green Eggs and Ham on the taxpayer dime by Harvard grad and newly minted Senator Ted Cruz. All of it resulting in our legislators stumbling home from their government offices stinking drunk and depressed beyond all normal measures.
Okay, I made up that last part.
But you gotta admit, things are bad.
No one is getting along. The Republican Party is a model of turmoil, its Tea Party butting heads with, well, pretty much everyone, including moderate colleagues. Democrats are ridiculing the entire lot.
Hmmm. What to do?
Perhaps a retreat? I know we’re in the midst of a crisis but if we don’t invest in a little levity in the hopes of uniting factions then the possibility of progress seems unlikely.
A retreat would take place in the wilderness, far from cameras and reporters. Luckily, I am meticulously familiar with retreat culture and thus can offer descriptions on how such a gathering would look:
No Social Media: If you’re going to get all zen and cozy with the enemy, the first rule is to disconnect. Brrreeaatthhee. Hug a tree! (Some Congress members actually do this, which is kind of funny and makes me wish a photographer would have gone.) Congress members and Senators abandon their trusty internet connections, Facebook accounts, and twitter feeds for a whole weekend, except for Senator John McCain, who is addicted to his poker app., has a big tournament scheduled, and is really good at concealing his phone via a camouflage case. Hardly anyone hyperventilates over this rule, although a few retreat to their alcohol stashes. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who is known to openly text during Presidential addresses suffers severe withdrawal, as does special guest Anthony “Text My Wiener” Wiener. Both are spotted entering the “medical” tent, which one rep claims is a casino.
Yoga: House Speaker John Boehner refuses to abandon child’s pose as well as his mega gavel. The Speaker softens when Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi adopts a warrior position, the single stance he finds inspiring. He admires her from his balled-up crouch, now sobbing uncontrollably.
Campfire basics: It’s not a retreat if you don’t learn to start a campfire. And what’s wrong with a little healthy competition? The soft-spoken Arizonan Senator and Majority Leader Harry Reid thinks he’s a cowboy so he enters the fray but quickly tires without a podium to lean on. Ultimately, Lynne Cheney, new resident of the Wild Wild West, a.k.a. Wyoming, wins by distracting fellow competitors with bird calls she learned from her father; she then flicks her Bic at a pile of dry leaves. Cheney’s staff poses the winner near the burgeoning fire, a fake bearskin rug — complete with fake bear head — clenched in her fist. This, they cheer, will make an excellent 2016 campaign poster.
Skeet shooting with Dick Cheney: Speaking of the elder Cheney, he makes a limited appearance to demonstrate the “skill” of skeet shooting. During the demo, Cheney fires bullets into the hat brims of two newly elected Democrats. The former Vice thinks this is the height of hilarity, given the hoopla over his prior hunting mishaps. The rookie legislators dash off as Cheney guffaws and makes chicken sounds, showing off a bird call most people assumed he knew but no one knew he knew for sure. The brimless Dems wait until they are literally out of the woods before turning and calling Cheney a wise-ass blow hard who owes them new Hope and Change caps.
Campfire stories: The first evening, legislators circle up and share stories, as stories are known to foster bonding. They make s’mores, too, as s’mores are known to be delicious and make the lawmakers feel even more like kids than does their usual behavior. The long-winded Ted Cruz is made to tell his story last, after the keg has been tapped.
Where is Waldo: Saturday morning, participants are given maps with clues aimed at helping them discover the whereabouts of Congressman Paul Ryan, last year’s budget wizard who mysteriously disappeared during this year’s financial talks. Clue: He is likely not running a marathon. He could be. If he lied about it. Or if a marathon was defined as p90x.
Wilderness Survival: Ted Cruz demonstrates (but only to other Ivy League grads) how to sneak an RV into prohibited areas so as not to have to camp with the “common man.” He elaborates on how to use adult diapers when facilities are scarce or you just have a whole lot to say or you are plotting to shut down the government. McCain, who is roughing it in a sleeping bag and eating raw snails, skips this presentation, calling Cruz a wilderness lightweight.
Sing along: Music is the theme of the second evening, even though House Republicans had pushed for a discussion of Obamacare. Camp songs, including the often-unifying Kumbaya, are featured. A handful of legislators mistake the lyrics for “Come buy us.” They love these lyrics so much they want to tweet them, but alas the rules prohibit this. They drink instead, singing louder and more off-key. Happiness reigns but Boehner says it must end at midnight.
Final Words: No preachers or benedictions here. Instead wildly popular New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who blames the shutdown on the President (whom he can skunk in arcade games, just sayin’) is tasked with motivating his federal counterparts before they head back to Washington. “It’s simple,” says the Gov, who reportedly aspires to be more than Gov. “Grow a pair!” His voice expands to a growl, his face reddens until it seems he might inflate and sail off like a hot air ballon. “Be a man! That goes for you women, too. Do your f-ing job!”
Yeah, that’ll work.