A day in the life of the emptiest suit in Washington:
7 a.m. You wake up, light a Camel. Read a pink Post-it left on the refrigerator by your wife: “John, don’t ever forget, YOU REALLY ARE THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE !!! Also, we’re out of bagels.”
7:30 a.m. You lie in your tanning bed meditating about the government shutdown, wondering if it was such a brilliant idea to let it happen. You put on some Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon, but that doesn’t help.
8:00 a.m. On the ride to Capitol Hill, your driver remarks that there’s not much traffic in the city, no tourists lined up to see money being inked at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. You smoke another Camel.
8:11 a.m. From the car you call the police to report that some jerk on D Street is selling “Boehner is a Bum” T-shirts — no, wait, he’s giving them away! Worse, he’s wearing a national park ranger’s uniform.
9:07 a.m. Staff meeting. The assistant in charge of reading all your hate mail insists she’s not crying, it’s just allergies.
On a more upbeat note, three tea party activists in Arizona tweeted that the shutdown is a smashing success, and that if you cave in to moderate Republicans who want to end it, then you are lower than lily-livered liberal scum.
9:30 a.m. You deliver your regular morning blame-Obama-for-everything sound bite, which goes pretty well, all things considered. Your wife calls to say you looked totally reasonable on TV, not the least bit satanic, and asks if you’d please swing by the grocery on the way home.
10:46 a.m. Fox News wants to interview you about the 800,000-plus federal workers being laid off. How are they supposed to pay their mortgages, keep up their car payments, yada, yada, yada. . . .
And this is Fox? They’re supposed to be on your side.
You tell your assistant in charge of turning down hard-hitting media interviews to say you’re too busy trying to end this dire national crisis caused entirely by the Democrats and the president.
11:07 a.m. Three discreet drags on a Camel before sneaking into another tanning bed that you’ve installed in a dark alcove near the speaker’s office. You put on some Zeppelin, In Through the Out Door, but can’t stop thinking about the havoc you’ve created by not letting the shutdown come to a vote on the House floor.
At the Department of Defense, 400,000 civilian workers furloughed with no pay. Same story at NASA, the Department of Justice, Treasury, Commerce, Labor, Energy, even Veterans Affairs.
And this was totally your call, as some unhappy colleagues have pointed out. One word from you and a clean spending bill would have passed, no problem, if only you weren’t such a wimp.
“I hate that word!” you start to holler, fogging up the Plexiglas.
12:30 pm. Lunch with a carefully chosen group of supporters. They try to brighten your mood with news that the sign-up website for the Affordable Care Act — sorry, Obamacare — is plagued with glitches.
What better proof that the president’s healthcare law is a total disaster, right?
“So cheer up, Mr. Speaker!” they say.
“Cheer up?” you snap back. “Didn’t you see the headline in the New York Daily News? ‘House of Turds.’ With my picture!”
“You’re definitely not a turd, Mr. Speaker.”
“Gee, thanks. Get the check.”
2:15 pm. You cancel the daily session with your charisma coach and go to the driving range to hit a bucket of balls. Out of nowhere comes a thundering downpour!
Turns out you didn’t receive the storm alert on your cell phone due to layoffs at the weather service caused by the you-know-what, that you yourself allowed to happen.
You stub out your Camel, go back to the office and sulk.
4:00 p.m. Your regular afternoon blame-Obama-for-everything sound bite is postponed because the assistant in charge of making sure you’re never photographed with Ted Cruz has spotted the lunatic Texan roaming the halls.
5:45 p.m. Quick trip to the tanning bed, then moisturize.
You’re preparing for a live interview with Diane Sawyer, who is way better looking than those stiffs on Fox. The producer says Diane’s going to remind you that you’re the one person who could stop the government shutdown tomorrow, if you wanted to.
Suddenly you remember a dentist appointment.
6:30 pm. On the ride home you phone the NSA and ask if someone could please hack the Google site and remove all the mean stuff being written about you. Unfortunately, the hacker in charge of that department has just been furloughed.
So you light up another Camel, and call Harry Reid.