In a week in which the U.S. government came within hours of shutting down, overripe understatements were practically falling out of the trees.
Like petals from a cherry tree on Washington's Pennsylvania Avenue ready to be swept up by a spring wind after the blossoms were played out, understatements littered the political landscape last week. There were so many pretty ones, it is hard to know where to start.
Before offering a few of the more painfully obvious quotes of the week, it should be remembered this column is not for those with frail constitutions. In all truth, most of the grand understatements in Washington this week sounded at least vaguely like something a high school cheerleader might write in a yearbook of a friend after a particularly dramatic, losing season.
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as chairman of the House Budget Committee had a part in the drama this week and offered these words of melancholy: "Right now, that legacy (of a prosperous America) is in grave danger."
President Barack Obama served up his own deflated cheerleader quip, saying, as a budget deal came through, "I would not have made these cuts in better circumstances."
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., came a little closer to the heart of the matter, when she said the compromise bill, which she had hoped would include deeper cuts and voted against, was a "disappointment for me and millions of Americans."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., remarked on the Republicans' ability to pretend the numbers are an unfortunate excuse to gut social programs they don't like by saying, "It's an opportunity for the right wing in the House (of Representatives) to really sock it to women."
The joke, of course, is that by next week the $5 billion in cuts Republicans pushed for that went above and beyond the Democrats' tolerance level will look like everyone was squabbling over a nickel.
After fighting over cuts in the billions, Washington will be debating the 2012 budget before the signatures are dry on the compromise 2011 bill. And the next debate will be about trillions of dollars, making it clear this debate will get far tougher before it gets any easier.
Yes, it's true: It's always darkest just before the dawn. And, yes, a shutdown was averted. Still, Mark Murray, deputy political director of NBC News put it most succinctly this week, writing, "If there is a government shutdown, the [NBC/Wall Street Journal] poll finds that there will be enough blame to go around."
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