One of the things that becomes obvious after a few years in the news industry is that most stories come back around. Some events are annual or regularly occurring, some behaviors are perennial or too typical, and some stories just don't go away. But sometimes, when we're lucky, a new story (or an old story in new clothes) comes along with the perfect elements for front page coverage.
Many times those front-page stories are tragic, and they are covered with a heavy heart. Sometimes the stories are heartwarming and are printed with an oddly happy feeling so out of character from the news room's usual cynicism. But occasionally, a story — the perfect story — comes along and the whole news room perks up.
Everyone walks with a fresher step, the jokes run like hot buttered rum, and we wonder when it will be made into a blockbuster movie.
This year we were given the gift of the fiscal cliff.
It's the perfect story. An epic story.
Two warring factions, both think they're in the right, neither has enough power to run away with the decision. A struggle ensues.
At stake is the future of our children, our grandchildren, our pride, our very nation. Big stuff. We might riot like Greeks or Parisians.
On one side are the little people and the middle people and the middle people who used to feel pretty well off, but aren't so much anymore. All of them see the growing gap between themselves and the super-dooper rich and know that somehow the truly wealthy have altered the rules to favor themselves and chip away at what little the have-nots have managed to scrape together.
On the other side are those who have worked hard to earn their money and those who've worked hard to make people think they deserve to be handed money and those for whom wealth is a family tradition handed down from their parents and their parents' parents along with a name and a silver spoon set. Those people are spending what the other side wishes they could.
To add to the drama, some who would clearly seem to be on one side root for the other. Those who don't have it, but who are working toward a position of wealth and power, don't want to see more taxes for the rich erode what they're striving for.
Some who have wealth and power oozing out their wallets, like Warren Buffett, are telling Congress to take more of their money or, like Bill and Melinda Gates, are taking the initiative to give their money away themselves.
And looming like a dark cloud over it all is Congress, the entity most "of the people, by the people and for the people" in all the land … whose current members hold the lowest collective approval rating of any Congress in the country's history (as determined by those who elected them) and whose record of purposeful and effective decision making has been the most dismal (as determined by anyone with a brain).
It won't matter what decision Congress makes, it will not be popular. The only thing congressional members could do worse than make a decision about whether or not to increase taxes on the rich or to decrease services which mostly affects the not-rich is this: make no decision at all.
No matter what they decide — or don't decide — it'll come down to a suspenseful ending, something required in every good blockbuster movie.
Perhaps we can get the Grand Canyon to play the part of the fiscal cliff.
House members will be played by the 435 Stooges, and Senate members will be played by the 100 dwarves, all of them named Dopey.
(That's a cut and a wrap at firstname.lastname@example.org.)