It would almost seem that the stars had finally aligned. After weeks of stalled talks and contentious meetings between House Republicans and Democrats that escalated into a public spat between Speaker John Boehner and President Obama, a bill finally made it through the House and into the Senate, where it was speedily approved Tuesday morning thanks to backing from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Majority Leader Harry Reid, just in time for the Cinderella-esque stroke-of-midnight deadline. The anthropomorphic bill from Schoolhouse Rock! had nothing on this drama.
So, the good news is that the country isn’t going to default on its debt obligations, which puts us at least one step ahead of Teresa Giudice from the Real Housewives of New Jersey. The bad news is that just as everyone was making nice and learning to compromise, Vice President Joe Biden made an offhand comment that Congress’s Tea Party Republicans “acted like terrorists” during negotiations, an ill-timed gaffe that not even the heartwarming sight of Gabrielle Giffords casting her first vote on the House floor after nearly getting assassinated in January could correct. Oh, Joe. To paraphrase The Princess Bride, you fell victim to one of the classic blunders—of which the most famous one is “Never get involved in a land war in Asia,” and an only slightly less well-known one is: Never go in against the Tea Party when debt is on the line.
But at least the Dems aren’t buying Twitter followers, which is more than we can say for beleaguered 2012 hopeful Newt Gingrich. After bragging to the Marietta Daily Journal that, despite abysmal poll numbers, he has “six times as many Twitter followers as all the other candidates combined,” a former staffer submitted an anonymous tip to Gawker claiming that 80% of Mr. Gingrich’s 1.3 million followers are either inactive or dummy accounts (this figure was later amended by networking firm PeekYou to a whopping 92%). File this under #YouKnowYouWon’tWinTheNominationWhen …
Also stepping in it this week: Bronx principal Frank Borzellieri, a white supremacist who, despite having published racist essays, somehow worked at a largely black and Latino Catholic school for two years before anyone noticed; Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, who did not do a very good job of apologizing tothe vacation rental company’s disgruntled clients whose apartments were trashed (it’s O.K., now you can rent swaths of Lower East Side grass for $50/hour, courtesy of N.Y.C.’s own Timeshare Backyard!); British comedian Johnnie Marbles, who got sentenced to six weeks in jail for memorably pie-ing Rupert Murdoch during July’s News Corp. hearing in Parliament; and the M.T.A., which is responsible for screwing up repairs and slowing service, according to a joint report released last weekend by state and city comptrollers Thomas DiNapoli and John Liu. (And here we thought we were just getting a complimentary sauna with our subway fare.)
So perhaps we were too hasty about the whole “stellar alignment” thing. Turns out mercury is in retrograde, and not to get all Dionne Warwick on you, but something has seemed … off the past few days. First, in the midst of an oppressive heat wave, baseball-size hail rained down on Queens (adding insult to injury for the hapless Mets). Then, a peacock escaped from the Central Park zoo and began terrorizing (read: sitting calmly on) a Fifth Avenue window ledge. Not one but two adult men made the news for wearing inappropriate full-body animal costumes (but on the upside, only one, David Wu, was a member of Congress). Mark Zuckerberg added a creepy pregnancy feature to Facebook. And just as the debt ceiling legislation went through, assuaging Wall Street’s fears about market stability, the Dow dropped 265 points. Maybe it’s just our bad fortune.