When my sister was small, she had a Mrs. Beasley doll. For readers who didn’t grow up in the 1960s, this was a small, grandmotherly doll made famous by a character named Buffy, age six, on the popular sitcom Family Affair.

As a young girl, my sister looked a lot like Anissa Jones, the actress who played Buffy on the show, and she took her doll with her everywhere. One day, when my brother needed an extra soldier for the large war he had scheduled in the backyard, the doll disappeared. It reappeared stained and tattered after our dog Mugs tried to shake the stuffing out of it. Still, my sister kept Mrs. Beasley, muddied, stained, an arm missing, stuffing hanging out the back. No one could get her to part with it.

When asked why, she replied, “I still love her, even if she’s hurt. I remember when she wasn’t.” I could never understand why my parents didn’t just clean it or sew it back up.

That is the state of the American Republic today. Our democracy is tattered, stained and torn, but we still cling to the memory of what it once was in lieu of our leaders showing any interest in cleaning it up. In fact, we relish our republic’s disfigurement and treat our government and its perpetual dysfunction as if it were sport. The Blues are always playing the Reds and we cheer for our favorite team with complete disassociation from facts, outcomes and reality.

These past few days, more than any others since President Donald J. Trump brought his Big Mac-induced obesity into the White House, show exactly how dysfunctional our government is. We entered a government shutdown because the Democrats and Republicans couldn’t reach amicable accords on how to spend the tax money we’ve given them to spend. Never mind the details.

Partisans will continue to point fingers at one another, but the truth is we are all to blame.

Last Friday, the Office of Management and Budget’s director, Mick Mulvaney, and the Director of Legislative Affairs, Marc Short, showed up before noon to set us straight. It was the “obstructionist Democrats” who were forcing a “Schumer Shutdown,” Mulvaney informed us, playing to his presidential audience of one.

He made a good point about the Democrats agreeing with the Republicans but wanting more, but he lost everyone when he descended into partisan rhetoric about how nobler the GOP is versus the Democrats. The Democrats, meanwhile, were flying a righteous flag of indignation as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi described the president’s deal as a steaming pile of excrement with a cherry on top.

The level of civil political discourse has never been lower in Washington, D.C. and we have the Democrats, Republicans and most especially President Donald J. Trump to blame for this woeful state of affairs. He promotes arguments. He changes his mind often and points fingers while Senator Chuck Schumer describes dealing with him as “dealing with Jell-O.” Partisans will continue to point fingers at one another, but the truth is we are all to blame.

But Mulvaney and Short didn’t care too much about that—at least not as of last Friday, when they said vital federal workers would remain at their posts if the government did shut down (which of course it did) but that they wouldn’t be paid. A questionable morale builder on its own, he was disingenuous, too. These workers would be paid—just not until the government technically reopened.

After the Mick and Marc Show in the West Wing, Schumer showed up at the White House by invitation of the president (and the consternation of Republicans on the Hill) to see if any last-minute deal could be made. A little later, Schumer left the Oval Office without speaking to the press. Since he’s known to have never met a camera he didn’t like, everyone guessed there was no deal. And they were right.

Had there been one, we probably would’ve seen the president making a statement in the East Room or in the Rose Garden—without taking questions, of course—and showboating about how he alone saved the Republic for which it stands from the nether regions and the Democrats.

Trump did make one public appearance last week, via satellite from the Rose Garden for a March for Life rally, wherein he mistakenly said no woman would be able to give birth after nine months. As we in the Garden tried to fathom what he meant, he simply marched off the stage.

Jim Acosta, John Karl, John Roberts and I were among those to shout questions. That led to me meeting the business end of a press wrangler who didn’t understand what was going on and who also happened to be a makeup artist, Katie Price.

“Hey, stop!” Price shouted at me.

“Do not tell me how to do my job. Do not interfere with me doing my job,” I said.

“This isn’t the place,” Price responded.

“This is the place. This is the time. If you don’t want me shouting, then get the president into the press room. Have him hold a press conference,” I responded. “I don’t particularly like shouting at him.”

As Mulvaney walked away, one of the reporters who doesn’t often cover the White House said, “Wow, what a shit show.”

Then I shouted at the president, “What are you doing to stop a shutdown?” He waved and left. I turned to Price: “I still love you, but never get in the way of me doing my job.” Price left with no apologies and none have come from the White House press office since.

Earlier that week, Acosta had a similar encounter in the Roosevelt Room when he shouted a question to the president. While many believe this shows a repressive government at work, I believe—and to some extent, others do too—that it only represents a White House press staff who are in over their heads with little understanding of what their jobs entail and how to do them. It is also, probably, an indication of a lack of civics education during their formative years, but let’s not get into that quite yet.

Stephanie March, a correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, witnessed the exchange I had in the Rose Garden and asked, “Is it always like this here?” I pointed her in Acosta’s direction and told her to ask him. We both said it was rare, but we also both got yelled at within a week of each other, so perhaps it was another New Normal moment.

While this event alone would normally take up the day, it was a mere sidebar. Minutes later, Kellyanne Conway walked outside to speak on-camera regarding the potential shutdown. Predictably, she blamed the Democrats. Off-camera, I approached her and said we had a gaggle of reporters and photographers on the driveway of the North Lawn who’d liekly swarm her to ask questions.

“I don’t want to be swarmed,” she informed me. “It’s too cold. Swarm me in July when it’s warmer.”

“I’ll loan you my coat,” I said.

“I’ll need your pants and shirt too,” she said with a smile.

I laughed, thinking I was talking to a typical politician: Offer them your coat, and they’ll take everything else too.

Someone said I should enter the #MeToo movement, but I understand humor, so I wasn’t bent out of shape.

Conway spoke briefly as she walked back to the West Wing and stood out front of the portico to take a few questions before going back into her office. “This is what leadership looks like,” she said with a straight face as she ducked into the White House.

A few press wranglers with sour faces dashed out of the White House later to admonish photographers about shooting video and photos under the portico, something prohibited by standing guidelines. Everyone politely nodded and ignored them.

Back inside the White House, I ran into Hogan Gidley, one of the few members of the press staff who presents himself professionally on a consistent basis. He chided me about a question I asked in the press room last week about the term “shithole” and whether it was appropriate for children.

“I was going ask whether your magazine [Playboy] is appropriate for children,” he smiled.

“You should have,” I said. “I would’ve replied that Playboy isn’t for children and your better response would’ve been, ‘There were no children in that meeting'—unless you’re implying Dick Durbin is one.”

To that, Gidley smiled. “That is a good response.“ Unlike others in the White House, Gidley has a sense of humor.

Meanwhile, director Mulvaney, who I had once referred to as a “Soup Nazi” and on another occasion asked if he knew the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow, went on CNN to preach his “Gospel to an audience of one” about the government shutdown.

He acknowledged his role in previous shutdowns when he was in Congress battling the Democrats but said everything was different now and he was on the side of righteousness and glory. While he spoke, a gaggle of reporters and photographers gathered within earshot. Then the pack of photographers backed off. “We’ll have him walk to us,” they said.

Two other reporters and I stood closer to Mick. It made no sense to give up precious walking space without being able to question him. The herd of photographers and other reporters stepped back toward us as Mulvaney got off the air and ditched the North Lawn, where he had been interviewed.

“Mick, you have some admirers,” I told him. He turned and we pelted him with questions as he walked toward the West Wing. This time, everyone gave up before junior handlers arrived to admonish us about being “too close” to the building.

As Mulvaney walked away, one of the reporters who doesn’t often cover the White House said, “Wow, what a shit show.”

It garnered a few laughs and a shout from someone else who said, “Welcome to the White House.” Mulvaney left us with one cogent thought though: he was confident that over the weekend, Congress would find common ground and end the shutdown by Monday.

Meanwhile the partisan hacks and wags were deep in the spin, either calling it a “Schumer Shutdown” or a “Trump Shutdown,” as Schumer said from the floor of the Senate on Saturday.

But what the strangest few days so far in a very strange presidential administration have shown me is that there is zero leadership to be found. There is none in Congress and definitely none at the White House.

Leadership takes responsibility. Leadership means taking Mrs. Beasley and sewing her up so she doesn’t fall apart—not pointing fingers at who mauled her in the first place.

Those who represent us act like children and the electorate is divided, watching politics as if they were watching my brother in his imaginary backyard wargame with no repercussions other than the ability to chant “Nyah, Nyah. I won!” before putting the broken doll back on the shelf.