Thus the government shutdown ends, not with a bang but an earmark? Or was it a sell-out? Maybe it was simply a prudent retreat, living again to fight again?
Take your pick among possible explanations for the cosmic meaning of last night's votes in the Senate and House on a deal to end the partial government shutdown and extend the debt ceiling, with yet another grand bargain on the budget supposedly in the offing.
The ink wasn't dry on President Obama's signature on the deal before Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was being accused of getting a $2.92 billion earmark for a huge Army Corp of Engineers project in Kentucky.
A little back-scratching, please
McConnell aides denied the earmark allegation, citing the fact that both Obama and a Senate subcommittee originated the spending request earlier this year.
That's true, no doubt, but why did the provision just happen to show up in this deal? Don't forget who just happens to be House Appropriations Committee Chairman — Rep. Hal Rogers, a diehard earmarker from, you guessed it!, Kentucky.
More controversy was sparked by a provision directing a gift of $174,000 to the widow of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, the Democratic senator who passed away earlier this year.
Nobody questioned whether the law authorized such gifts to the families of deceased senators or representatives, but why didn't the deal's legislative authors look at each other and ask why they were making the gift to a widow who inherited an estate worth an estimated $55 million?
What else is in there?
These two provisions are likely merely samples of what will be discovered in the days ahead buried in the deal's typically all-but-indecipherable legislative language.
It usually takes several weeks before journalists and government watchdogs are able to translate the most obscure whys and wherefores into plain English.
The result is invariably a string of headline-grabbing revelations, followed by promises from "outraged" politicians in both parties that something has to be done to get control of spending.
Far from over, friends
Those who think the Tea Party fever among Republicans has been broken, however, will be bitterly disappointed by this from Sen. Ted Cruz:
"We didn't win this battle, because look, no one should be surprised when you're taking on the Washington establishment, the establishment fights back, and this was going to be a multistage extended battle."
In today's Washington Examiner
Editorial: GM got bailout, now is shipping jobs to China.
Charlie Spiering: Once a critic, Labrador praises Boehner in wake of shutdown battle.
Michael Barone: What if the Obamacare software crashes and burns?
Brian Hughes: Government shutdown victory may be short-lived for Obama.
Susan Crabtree and David Drucker: Conservatives admit defeat but vow to press on in battle against Obamacare.
In other news
The New York Times: Booker gets job to fit his profile, wins New Jersey Senate race.
The Washington Post: NSA role in drone operations detailed.
Chicago Tribune: Automakers extend aid to furloughed federal employees.
USA Today: Winners and losers in the shutdown battle.
ABC News: Shutdown cost the nation $24 billion.
The Wall Street Journal/Daniel Henninger: Obama romneyizes the Republicans.
NetRightDaily: The Lautenberg deal.
The Foundry: The deal that is no deal.
Talking Points Memo: Conservatives learned the wrong lessons from the shutdown.
Rolling Stone: Matt Taibbi goes all WWSD on Ted Cruz.
Washington Monthly: Regional differences have doomed the Tea Party.