brucekluger.com

    The New Republic Online, December 21, 2000

    Christmas on the Potomac (2000)

    By Bruce Kluger


    T’is the night before Christmas, and all through the House
    Not a statesman is stirring (nor Congressman’s spouse);
    and one chamber over, the Senate is still
    Such a somnolent evening on Capitol Hill.

    But....

    Just after New Year’s, a week or two hence,
    a chattering clamor is set to commence.
    The stately rotunda will fill with the din
    as the men and the women of Congress file in.

    At first come the Freshmen, a skip to their gait,
    then Hillary’s entourage, fash’nably late.
    The veterans, next, led by Byrd and DeLay,
    (and grandpappy Thurmond the following day).

    They’ll strut and they’ll back-slap and chew the same fat:
    “Did you ever see such an election as that?”
    “The recounts and butterflies—twist after twist!”
    “And what do you think of that Rehnquist assist?”

    And just before choosing which paper to push ,
    they’ll pause to anoint the new President (Bush).
    Then it’s off to the races, to battle lines drawn,
    to speeches and budgets and pork-barrel brawn.

    McCain will kick off with his campaign reform,
    a move bound to trigger a party-line storm.
    As Tommy “the Hammer” whips into a tizzy,
    America’s lawmaking body gets busy!

    Prescriptions for seniors; new Medicare billing;
    a chunk of Alaska for unfettered drilling;
    a package on tax cuts, a pay hike for teachers,
    bipartisan pledges by former impeachers.

    And that’s when the trump card will likely be played,
    with somebody eyeballing Roe versus Wade.
    The air will be static, the tension will peak.
    (Imagine such drama in just the first week!)

    Most certainly, then, the debate will get messy;
    a sermon from Teddy, a lecture from Jesse.
    With faxes a-faxing, and cell phones a-ringing
    the heaviest hitters will rise and start swinging:

    On Daschel! On Boxer! On Hastert! On Lott!
    On little Dick Armey, to stir up the pot.
    On Orrin! On Barney! On Biden the Wise.
    (And don’t forget Cheney, the breaker of ties.)

    The media, meanwhile, will add to the clatter;
    the pundits will ponder, the nabobs will natter.
    On Donaldson! Blizter! On Safire! Dowd!
    They may not be right but they’ll always be loud.

    And that’s how the Washington cookie will crumble.
    For this is our way, be it ever so humble.
    A nation of poets and heroes and cads,
    of laptops and hip-hop (and, recently, chads).

    Yes, we are America, red, white and blue;
    we’re not always pretty, but somehow we’ll do.
    So from butcher to cop to Commander-in-Chief:
    Merry Christmas to all—and to all a “good grief!”