- The yellow roses on the dining room table still spring upright. The yellow tulips on the coffee table already droop as if falling into a deep sleep. Yet both were bought at the same time. Each seems a still life now, or are they both alive still?
- When is a deal a deal? Not when it's hammered out in Congress as the bitter-enders of both parties reneged on the agreement they finally reached to shut down the shutdown that had kept the federal government stalled for three long suspense-filled days. Now the irreconcilables seem out to undo the happy ending they'd just negotiated. Had they signed on to it with their fingers crossed? (If it weren't politically incorrect, I'd accuse the Democratic leaders of being Indian givers. Besides, the Indians in question were innocent of any treachery. They were only acting in the good faith that God's land, waters and air should belong to all. Weren't they only reclaiming what had been rightfully theirs all along?)
- Tomorrow's another day with another deal to be made--and then promptly unmade. But this dance reveals not just who the irreconcilables are in Congress, but who are the reconcilables, the leaders who act in good faith and unquenchable hope. Leaders like the Republican senator from South Carolina, trustworthy Lindsey Graham, who gives one hope that a deal once made won't be unmade by the zealots on both sides of the aisle. But will he and his welcome lot prevail?
- Senator Graham is not only an idealist but a realist who recognizes the odds against a reasonable agreement ever being reached in Congress, where the zealots stand prepared to sabotage any compromise. To quote the good senator on the stalemate: "If you had a tattoo for every group that's forming, you'd have an arm full of them. There's a play being made by the White House to pick up 48 Republicans and 12 Democrats. That ain't gonna work. I've seen that play a bunch. That gets you nothing. There's a play by Democrats to pick up 12 of us. That ain't gonna work. We've got about five or six for my proposal, but you're not going to get 12. So the only way you're ever going to get something out of the Senate that has the chance to get on the president's desk is to make it close to 70 votes." The question remains: How can so many look at the same picture and see such different things?
- This much hasn't changed in Washington: the urge to make a deal, however unstable. What the country's dealmaker-in-chief will support, says Mick Mulvaney, the White House's budget director, "depends on what we get in exchange. What do we get for border security? What do we get for the wall [along the Mexican border]?" Will all of these questions remain in flux or ever be resolved? And if resolved, for how long?
- Meanwhile, the Dreamers, those immigrants for whom the dream is to become full-fledged American citizens, dream on. One of them is Frank Sharry, who directs America's Voice. "Last week," he said, "I was moved to tears of joy when Democrats stood up and fought for progressive values and for Dreamers. Today, I am moved to tears of disappointment and anger that Democrats blinked." How does the same picture of politics inspire such different interpretations? Can it be that where you come out on this issue depends on the suppositions you started with?
- So is this glass half full or half empty? The answer to that question remains murky. Because change happens and there's no telling where it will lead. Thus it long has been and thus it will remain for the foreseeable future, subject to change without further notice. Is that how different people can look at the same Rorschach test and see different visions of things to come? I'm neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet but just a columnist gathering snippets of the day's news and hoping they can be fitted together into a coherent whole.
- What do you think, those of you presented with the same picture and asked to judge whether your never humble servant has interpreted it acceptably? Opinions doubtless will vary. Can that be why there are eight ways--at least--to see the same thing?
Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer and columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Editorial on 01/28/2018
Print Headline: Eight ways to see the same thing