October 17, 2013
Maybe he knows? (Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)
Maybe he knows? (Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Good news! The government is back! Now you can go visit the monuments with impunity and resume your creepy daily surveillance of the panda!

After weeks of struggle and plummeting in the skewed and unskewed polls, Congress has resolved its differences and come together. And its members achieved so much! Here are just 10 big tangible things that instantly spring to mind.

10. Income verification for individuals earning more than 400 percent of poverty level! Admittedly, some people say that this was going to be part of Obamacare anyway and really isn’t a big win, but people who say things like that also say things like, “This shutdown is a terrible idea” and “What do you hope to achieve by this?” and “You are quite literally less popular than herpes.” If this isn’t big and exactly the kind of thing worth fighting over for weeks while the country hemorrhages dollars, then why did George Washington say all those things about “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. Also, be sure to shut down the government unless there is explicit provision made for income verification in Obamacare” — or whatever it is that he said.

9. That stenographer who had to be removed from the building, shouting about the Freemasons and Jesus. That was a win for someone.

8. Great distraction from Obamacare Web site’s total failure to work, as for the past two weeks it has done everything short of biting off the hands of people who tried to sign up and registering them as sex offenders instead.

7. We somehow squandered $24 billion, and any time you spend $24 billion and don’t come home with anything tangible you can hold in your hands, you get a little tingling sensation in your forehead that is probably pride but might also be an aneurysm. This is how the protagonists of movies set in Vegas feel, I bet!

6. Reassurance for the international community that even in times of economic recovery and comparative stability, one thing does not change: the terrifying dysfunction of the American system of government.

5. We all know the name Ted Cruz now! This is huge! We might have to shut things down again closer to 2016 to make sure this big gain remains stable, though.

4. The tea party is back in the news. This is a big win for America, where we have apparently missed the irony that the original purpose of dumping tea into Boston Harbor was to say, “Hey, people across the Atlantic! America is totally capable of governing itself in a stable manner and if you turn your back a second, nothing we do will lead to horrific world collapse!” which is exactly the opposite of the message the tea party sends to Europe nowadays.

3. This is a big gain for people who forget to get presents on birthdays and milestone anniversaries. “I have gotten you what the people behind the shutdown in Congress got after two weeks and $24 billion!” you can say next time. You don’t even have to bother quickly scribbling a crappy poem on a napkin.

2. Um. Look. Why are we so focused on tangible things and gains and policy concessions and, uh, tangible things, and stuff? Why don’t we appreciate the intangibles more, like, maybe, maybe a furloughed employee got to spend more time with his teenage son, and maybe, maybe they flew kites together or something, and wouldn’t that have been a beautiful moment if it happened, and wasn’t it all worth it, again assuming it happened?

1. Great publicity for Tortilla Coast!

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.