WASHINGTON — Russian President Vladimir Putin again flexed his diplomatic muscles, drawing to a close the government shutdown that brought Washington to a standstill Tuesday.
Secretary of State John Kerry first suggested bringing Russia to the negotiating table in an offhanded remark made at a press conference in which he discussed the impact of the shutdown on the State Department.
“I wish I knew what to do with these intransient Tea Party members that have taken the government hostage,” exclaimed Kerry, “but it’s not like Russia can swoop in and save the day every time.
A call from the Kremlin placed to the White House an hour later quickly disabused the administration of its dismissive view.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, while declining to offer specifics, indicated that the Russians have offered to “identify, secure, and ‘silence’ any member of Congress who proves unwilling to keep money flowing through the federal government.”
“Apparently,” continued Carney, “Putin has successfully quieted unruly adversaries in the past and was more than willing to share his knowhow to help us restart the government.”
Not everyone was as relieved by the sudden turn of events. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has advocated a scorched earth policy to force the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, claimed, “Ceding the authority to determine when and how the government of the United States operates to a media-hungry, foreign-born, power-obsessed madman goes against everything for which I stand.”
Senator John McCain, who opposed the US-Russia deal on Syria, told ABC News that he has come around to see Putin’s point of view. “I [was] of the firm belief, given his record, that is a very, very big gamble,” said McCain, referring to the Russian president. “But when it comes to a game of Russian roulette between Putin and the likes of Sen. Cruz, I realized that it’s a bet America is sure to win.”
Carney told reporters that he “fully expects to have Washington up and running by the end of the day—Moscow time.”