Everyone’s heard of Groundhog Day, but are you familiar with Ground Weasel Day? It’s actually much more important, but it’s mostly a political insider thing. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Don’t tell anyone else.
On Feb. 2, a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil comes out of the ground in Punxsutawney, Pa., to see whether he sees his shadow, which allegedly tells us whether there’s going to be six more weeks of winter or not. It’s a cute little legend, but who really cares? The important action comes the next day — Feb. 3 — every four years.
On the Feb. 3 of a presidential election year, a ground weasel named Backroom Bob comes out of a smoke-filled room and turns on a television set. He flips between various cable news networks these days, but he used to have to watch the evening news. Before there was television, he read morning papers.
Regardless of the era, though, it works the same way. Backroom Bob comes out on that day to sample the candidates for president and the amount of support they have among voters. He then gives his prediction for the next four political years.
I can’t give you Backroom Bob’s specific location, because they’d kill me if I went that far. But let’s just say that he’s located in a far darker corner of reality than you might like to realize exists in your political system. He lives in the smoke-filled rooms behind a certain seedy bar frequented by especially crooked political wheeler-dealers. As a ground weasel himself, he understands other weasels and doesn’t judge them for their base motivations and vile dishonesty. All weasels are like that, so he expects it.
As he’s done for the last hundred years or so, Backroom Bob came out today and made his pronouncement. If you like the way things have been going in the last couple of decades, you’re going to love what he predicts.
“The next four years are going to be filled with dishonest gamesmanship in the service of a progressive left agenda,” said Backroom Bob. “This is the same thing I get to predict almost every time — and I’m never wrong when I predict this one. You’re going to see a president lie to you and make many promises he can’t keep. You’re going to see him blame the other party and the previous president for everything that goes wrong, even if he pretty much agrees with the other party and the previous president on everything that matters.
“You’re going to see tiny differences blown up into huge disagreements to play out as TV drama, while all the major issues that matter will be settled in their usual bi-partisan way behind closed doors. Your government will keep growing — as your president and Congress promise that they’ve come to agreements to make government smaller.”
All of that seemed to make sense to me, but I still wasn’t sure which party’s candidate Backroom Bob was predicting would win, so I asked him.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “Everything I said is true for both. They’re children squabbling over who gets to be in charge of the clubhouse this time, but they all agree on what matters. They all agree on spending more money and making whatever promises it takes to get votes. So who really cares who wins? Whether it’s Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, it’s going to be the same either way.”
And with that, he flipped off the television set, hopped down from his chair and scurried back toward one of the darkened rooms where he lives. I think I heard a poker game going on back there. Sadly, I don’t suspect his prediction will be any different when he comes out on Feb. 3, 2016.