WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Eleven days into a federal government shutdown that has left national monuments shuttered and hundreds of thousands of government employees furloughed, some U.S. government officials are starting to perk up.
"Literally nobody else does this," an elected member of the Tea Party caucus told this reporter gleefully, on the condition of anonymity because he "didn't want to jinx anything too early in the game." As of press time, this is still just the sixth longest shutdown in American history. But 'Joe Congressman,' as he requested to be called, thinks it's a good time to bet on American exceptionalism.
'Joe' is one of many elected officials who see this first shutdown in 17 years as an opportunity to set America further apart from the increasingly interconnected and interdependent globalized society. "We're in a league of our own," he explained. "When other countries' governments shut down, there's usually a revolution or something. But not us! We can grind the government -- of the world's largest economy! -- to a halt over something that really isn't even up for debate. I think people were startin' to forget how exceptional we are, because of all of our recent high-profile, damaging, and embarrassing political missteps. This oughtta remind 'em. U.S.A. number one!"
Astonishingly, this outlook has done little to alleviate the concern and confusion of the rest of the world. "It does seem a bit... bizarre," a BBC Radio 5 Live broadcaster hedged while trying to explain the Tea Party's sunny outlook on their seemingly Pyrrhic victory to a dumbfounded U.K. audience.
"That's classic!" crowed 'Joe Congressman' after hearing that clip and several others, notably including the first recording of a Canadian uttering an expletive directed at people. "Fellas -- you gotta hear this!" he yelled into the hallway, holding open the door to his private office. "We made the Canadians call us a**holes!"
His cohort was still roaring with laughter when a freshman Republican burst in with a sheet of paper in her hand, grinning widely. "You have got to see what they're saying about us! Apparently we're making Syria look like Japan!"
The feeling in the room was clear. 'Confused and concerned,' Tea Partiers can agree, is just how they best like other countries.