It was only a matter of time before a much maligned Congress started comparing itself to the even more maligned New York Jets of the National Football League.
With all of Washington abuzz about the parameters of a possible deal to avoid the confluence of year-end tax hikes and previously-agreed cuts to defense spending, the Senate decided to play a little football this morning.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, a sports fan himself, crafted an analogy on the Senate floor focusing on the Jets and their coach, Rex Ryan, to demonstrate a lack of leadership on the Republican side of aisle:
“Coach Ryan, he’s got a problem. He has three quarterbacks. Sanchez. He’s got Tim Tebow. He’s got a guy name McElroy. He can’t decide who their quarterback is going to be. That’s the same problems the Republicans are having.”
“Who is the quarterback? Who is the quarterback?” asked the Nevada Democrat.
Now, as deficit reduction analogies go, differentiating the GOP signal callers seems a little tricky. In the press, it has been House Speaker John Boehner leading the charge for the Republicans, the starting quarterback in any negotiation. He is the Mark Sanchez of the moment, if you will, a starter expected to carry the team forward with high expectations and many to please.
Former Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan plays the role of Tim Tebow. A rising congressional star who held the spotlight briefly but has since been relegated to the sidelines. The Ryan budget and the conservative bloc he represents loom in the background of negotiations, calling for more playing time and a stronger role in shaping a deal.
In D.C., as in New York with Tebow, it remains to be seen if there is a role for Paul Ryan at the top under the assembled leadership this season. For now he is just another backup.
And finally we have House Minority Leader Eric Cantor. The Virginia Republican has yet to play a large public role in ongoing cliff negotiations. Similar to third string quarterback Greg McElroy, Cantor has been identified as a “young gun” and if given the chance is expected to succeed on a larger stage. He has already inserted himself once before during last year’s debt ceiling fight and may be vital to rallying Republican support for a deal in the House.
And then there are the Democrats.
Not to be outdone, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had the last word, saying: “The quarterback on the Democratic side is the President of the United States and unfortunately he keeps throwing interceptions… and we’re moving backwards toward the goal line.”