MARTY RUSSELL: Washington has become all trick, no treat



Watching President Barack Obama’s news conference Tuesday afternoon in which he reiterated that the country should not be held hostage by a few in Congress who insist on having things their way got me to thinking about Halloween. Really.

I mean what colors are the two main players – Obama and House Speaker John Boehner – in the current stalemate over raising the debt ceiling and funding the government for at least a couple of more weeks since a real budget hasn’t been adopted since 1997? Black and orange, right? The colors of Halloween.

Obama is a black African-American, although there are still those who would question the “American” part of that description, and Boehner is the color of an Oompa Loompa from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” or perhaps one of those orange traffic cones.

Those are the traditional colors of Halloween, the approaching holiday dedicated to scares and frights and demanding things from your neighbors under threat of dirty tricks if they don’t hand over the treats. The colors came to be associated with the holiday way back when it was still called Samhein, a Celtic word meaning “end of summer.”

Black was considered the color of the goddess of the underworld while orange represented the color of the bonfires used to mark the holiday and the change of the seasons as well as the color of the leaves at this time of the year and the orange pumpkins people carved and put outside their doors to keep the ghosts away on what later became All Hallows Eve when the Christian church incorporated it.

So I was somewhat relieved Tuesday when I made the Halloween connection with what appears to be a major mess in Washington. Relax, I thought. It’s just the government getting into the holiday spirit. You’ve got this black guy and this orange guy trying to scare the bejeezus out of the entire country with this fabricated monster they’ve cooked up. Those jokers.

They’re probably both bobbing for apples in the Oval Office having a good laugh at our expense.

I mean they can’t really be serious, right? No one in their right mind could possibly be serious about defaulting on this country’s debt for the first time in history in a vain (both definitions) attempt at killing a law that is already on the books, already being implemented and is already funded. That would be like any standard Halloween movie where the character knows there’s a monster in there but they’re going to open the door anyway.

So you can imagine my relief when I finally made the connection Tuesday and figured out that it’s all just a big Halloween prank and later both Republicans and Democrats are going to sneak out and go toilet paper the NSA offices.

It is just a prank, right? I mean adults can’t possibly be acting like this and be serious, right? Please tell me it’s only a movie.

Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at

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