Washington DC -- The political theatre surrounding debt talks took a strange twist this weekend at the White House when Republicans stormed out of the meeting, accusing President Obama of having the cooties.
With both the broad outlines and specifics of the debt ceiling negotiations having been settled for weeks, both Republicans and Democrats faced a common challenge: how to sustain audience interest until the last minute when the deal would be signed.
The original script for "Epic Clash" (as the mini-series became known inside the The White House) called for increasing levels of acrimony with a series of strident accusations and "disconnects" leading to dramatic break offs in the talks. But when Republican House Speaker John Boehner stormed out of talks last Friday, and ratings of the series plummeted, a script rewrite was the only real option, especially with the unfolding News Corp hacking scandal diverting audience attention. Even the carefully choreographed performance of a "visibly angry" Obama at his "hastily called press conference" failed to engage viewers who already had started settling into their weekend rituals of beer and baseball. Suddenly, the White House script writers knew they needed a game changer to revive audience interest.
Focus groups made clear their disgust with the political process describing it in terms that had leaders of both parties concerned. "Boring" was the most damning indictment and the White House scriptwriters worst fears were confirmed when it became clear that the tired themes of "increased taxes vs spending cuts" were not sufficiently entertaining to keep the audience involved in the unfolding drama. Their market research report tellingly concluded, "Viewers need a character based subplot with a more visceral appeal and personal hook to sustain their level of interest, although the solvency of the U. S. government is at stake."
According to informed sources that requested anonymity, the so-called Cooties Option (Code Name: CO) had been on the table since the talks began months ago, but President Obama had initially dismissed it as "silly" and "demeaning of the political process." One well placed source was even more blunt, saying "neither party wanted anything to do with it."
But when Obama faced a revolt from fellow Democrats for caving into Republican demands, suddenly the "Cooties Option" came into play again. It presented Obama with the ability to box Republicans into a corner as not only unreasonable, but also completely "off their rocker." Obama harbored reservations about latent "racist overtones" of the Cooties Option, but those concerns were blunted when research showed that the "Cooties Theme" had been used effectively in comic strips such as Calvin and Hobbes and Dilbert as well as popular movies like Grease, and Pulp Fiction and several episodes of The Simpsons, all with significant ratings boost and no significant racist backlash.