Whenever someone is tempted to think I'm smart, think on this: My car's registration and driver's license expire next week, and I waited until today to renew them. My trip to D.C.'s DMV informs me that not everyone pays attention to contrarian predictions or reporting about the game theory of budget negotiations. No, indeed. People freak out .
For example, the main location that offers car inspection usually has a line winding around a block. At 9 a.m., it wound around four blocks. This sign was one of the reasons.
Credit where due, the DMV employees handled the crowds smartly, waving them into separate queues, sprinting occasionally when someone who'd gone catatonic with boredom misinterpreted a hand signal and headed into a bus line instead of a car line. It was a messier situation at the nearby DMV office, where licenses are handed out, and everyone I talked to in line said it was the shutdown angst that'd had brought them in.
"What I heard is that they're going to shut it down because they don't want to pass some abortion bill," said Andre Love, a home repair and improvement contractor who was trying to get his motorcycle registered. "It's gonna be bad. That's why everyone's here today."
It's only been a day or so that Democrats have claimed that Republicans are forcing the shutdown over a ban on funds for Planned Parenthood. (The funds cannot pay for abortion; that's illegal under the Hyde Amendment.) But when I ask people open-ended questions -- why are you here, why might the government shut down -- they all cite this. Two women behind me in one line talked about why the government might shut down -- abortion, they agreed -- and got angry at something they'd just heard, that members of Congress would be paid while other government workers wouldn't be.
"Nobody here's getting paid and they're getting paid?" said one of the women. "If they stopped them getting paid I bet you they'd figure a deal out."
TODAY IN SLATE
The Self-Made Man
The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
The GOP Senate Candidate in Iowa Doesn’t Want Voters to Know Just How Conservative She Really Is
Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?
The Supreme Court, Throughout Its History, Has Been a Massive Disappointment
Why Indians in America Are Mad for India’s New Prime Minister
Now Stare. Don’t Stop.
The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.
You Deserve a Pre-cation
The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.