A comment in The Nation published in the Gilded Age noted a circus clown telling people the best days of the circus were over. We've noticed the same thing lately, bemoaning a scarcity of clown talent at the circus. What's to be done? One reason given, then and now: Fewer youths are running away from home to join the circus.
However, in our new gilded day and age, they are running away to join a sinister kind of circus. It's called the People's House of Representatives. It has lots of new clown faces to show the people—more than 80 are House Republican freshmen, and they've got plenty of tricks to play on you. Washington can barely look at their high wire antics.
The ringmaster is House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican if there ever was one. Boehner has just one problem: He can't control the new crowd of clowns at the circus. This is not business as usual, but a case of holding the Capitol captive. So we go again, with the House Republican leadership's threat of refusing to raise the debt limit, all over again. Haven't we seen this show before? Like, suddenly last summer. Boehner is trying to lead the elephant stampede he sees coming. Good luck with that.
All the real action is in the House. The Senate is just a sideshow. There the scary circus clowns have other work to do. They have pranced and dodged around the Senate's version of the Violence Against Women Act and the highway (surface transportation) bill. (What congressman in his right mind doesn't love a highway bill?)
Ah, but this circus is not like any other. The new angry clowns hate the circus itself. They want to tear and burn it down and have the greatest show on Earth open at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.