The shutdown has ended,
the barricades at the national parks are down and federal employees can return to work with assurance that they will be paid.
Back to normal in Washington, right?
Hardly. True, we dodged the bullet on default -- a horrendous and irresponsible "alternative" -- and the 16-day disruption of government has ended, but the bi-partisan deal brokered by Senate leaders that enabled government options to resume is only a stopgap solution. Again, our "leadership" in Washington has kicked the proverbial can a few months down the road, setting the stage for another "crisis" to arise.
Congress approved government funding only through Jan. 15. To head off a default, the package gives the government the authority to borrow what it needs through Feb. 7.
That means we can look forward to another mess sometime after the start of the coming year unless -- miracle of miracles -- Republicans and Democrats in Washington can get their acts together and come up with a reasonable way to get our budgetary house in order.
Frankly, we're not betting on that happening. That would take a sense of responsibility, accountability and, for lack of a better term, adulthood that has been sadly absent in the rhetoric, political posturing and grandstanding in the headlines for the past few weeks.
It's a lot easier to tear down a barricade at a national monument than it is to come up with a way to ensure that the monuments stay open.
"There are no winners here," President Barack Obama said Thursday after signing the last-minute measure from Congress that brought the budget crisis to a close. "The American people are completely fed up with Washington."
Quite true. We're tired of our leaders, Republicans and Democrats alike, playing games that bring us to the brink of fiscal disaster -- and that's exactly what a federal default would have been -- but showing no signs of being able to come up with workable solutions or effective compromise.
Republicans need to accept the fact that Obamacare, with its flaws, is here to stay and putting the budgetary gun to the head of the president and holding his signature accomplishment hostage was a poor way to do business.
Democrats need to accept the fact that Republicans have a majority in the House, including a large and vocal contingent that was sent to Washington with a mandate not to do "business as usual," and some way has to be found to work with them. Demonizing them isn't the answer.
The same holds true for those in the GOP whose outright hatred for the president prevents them from any meaningful interaction with the opposition. Leadership doesn't erase political differences, but requires an ability to transcend them when necessary, as both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton did.
And President Obama, for his part, needs to show more effective leadership, toning down the political rhetoric and easing the stubborn attitude that hinders any meaningful compromise.
All isn't well in Washington. The agreement reached Wednesday as the clock ticked far too close to ground zero on default isn't the answer. It's time for a different approach toward resolving budget issues. Otherwise, we'll be playing the same games all over again in just a few months.