If you're not having as much fun as you expected this New Year's Eve, take some comfort in the fact that the nation's politicians are even more miserable. They just failed to avert the "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and spending cuts, and they're still stuck in Washington, D.C. anyway. The entire country hates them, they hate each other, and yet they're fated to ring in 2013 together, drowning their sorrows in wonton soup at the Hunan Dynasty.
The Democrats were thought to be less afraid of going over the cliff than the Republicans. Yet they seem just as upset. The Senate may yet vote tonight on a deal that will raise taxes on those making $450,000 per year, among other provisions, while putting off the sequester for two months until the details of spending cuts can be worked out. House members are being told to stick around, lest they be called in for a vote sometime on Jan. 1.
Meanwhile, Majority Leader Eric Cantor is warning his caucus not to drink too much, so that they might be sober when they have to vote "yes." Members are dreading what they will have to approve: a typical Washington, D.C.: tax first, cut spending later (or never). The public will hate it--and they know it. Republicans already see gloomy primaries ahead; Democrats are quietly resolving to avoid town hall meetings for the next two years.
President Barack Obama is faring little better, having thrown one of the worst press conferences in political history. It was an announcement, essentially, about nothing; the assembled "middle class" tableau was one Indian chief short of the Village People; the press was unusually unimpressed. He'll raise a lonely glass tonight--and perhaps light a cigarette--to toast the historic end of an extraordinary year of triumphant underachievement.
So wherever you are, celebrate this New Year secure in the knowledge that you are, if not absolutely happy, at least relatively so. And feel no pity for the politicians who will wake up bleary-eyed underneath their desks tomorrow morning to the sound of the voting alarm. They'll find another way to mess it up again in a month or two, when the debt ceiling comes do. For you, and for us, there may yet be hope, right here. Happy 2013!
Update (9:26 p.m. EST): Vice President Joe Biden has crashed the party. He is now on Capitol Hill, according to Breitbart News' Kerry Picket, twisting arms among Senate Democrats to make sure they support a deal that has been reached between the White House and Republican leaders (and whose terms have yet to be made clear in full). News outlets report that the House has adjourned until noon on January 1st.