Posts tagged ‘catnap’...
Aug 1, 2011 @ 5:44 PM
As I sit down to type, a bunch of incredibly irritating people in power suits are crowding inside a large, neoclassical building in a very humid city to vote on something that I’ve talked about a few times on here. If you’ve been reading, you know what I’m referring to. If you live not under a rock, you know what I’m referring to. This is — or at least appears to be — the final act of one of the worst displays of political theatre in recent history: the great debt ceiling debate.
In my first post on this topic, I introduced some historical context for readers who happened to be unfamiliar with the debt and deficit situation, and I also doled out a generous helping of criticism to both Democrats and Republicans for their senseless political posturing around this issue. I extended these criticisms in my second post, but this time I came down harder on the GOP and, specifically, their orange-faced pack leader John Bo[eh]ner. As this ridiculous affair winds down to its final moments I can say that I still stand by these opinions, but I was wrong about one major thing:
None of it actually matters.
This realization was the product of time, a fair amount of Paul Krugman columns and conversations with enlightened friends, but it really is true. I was duped along with the rest of the country into thinking that the debt ceiling was a crisis of biblical proportions, and that the very survival of our nation depended upon its expedient resolution. But this just isn’t the case. As I’ve read and watched more coverage — coverage that, of course, has only intensified with the approach of the August 2 “deadline” — it dawned on me that this was and is nothing more than a skillfully executed manipulation of the American people. The purpose of it? To ignite a fear-driven media storm and achieve a desired political outcome, obviously. After years of paying attention to Washington, I should have seen this coming a mile away but, alas, I was fooled. I feel cheap. And a little cold.
Another factor worth acknowledging is the utterly inane predictability with which this whole debacle has played out. Not to toot my own horn (now you know I’m going to toot it), but I alluded to this idea in an earlier writing on the subject. Basically what I said is that the assholes in D.C. would bicker back and forth until the very last minute, and then all of a sudden POW!, we would have a deal. And that’s exactly what happened. The difference, though, is that I no longer hold the matter in such high regard. I see now that the debt ceiling was always going to be raised, and that even if it wasn’t, it never represented a real problem. The real problems, as Krugman and an alarmingly small group of others have pointed out, are things like mass unemployment, an anemic economic recovery, the faltering real estate market and a crumbling national infrastructure, to name just a few. Yeah, we’re in over our heads financially, but we have been since the Mayflower. I agree that spending should be reduced, but not now. We never should have spent so much money in the first place but, like idiots, we did, and now with the new debt ceiling bill and its associated cuts we run the risk of making a bad fiscal situation even worse.
The part that’s really going to chafe my knickers will be the inevitable declarations of victory on both sides of the aisle once this sideshow finally does conclude. Whereas yesterday there were cries of unbridled panic, tomorrow there will be jingoistic, “make no mistake” speeches that affirm the resolve of our great nation and its highly capable leaders. President Wet Noodle Obama will once again stand at the podium in the White House Hall of Mirrors & Dreams or whatever it’s called and say that we accomplished the impossible, rising above petty politics to do what’s right for future generations. Boehner and his cronies will head to the nearest spray tan emporium and toast each other with gin fizzes. Hillary will mutter grudgingly under her breath at 35,000 feet somewhere over sub-Saharan Africa. Biden, as usual, will be in the throes of an intense catnap and have to be briefed on the whole thing in the morning.
The truth, though, is that not a single member of the U.S. government deserves credit for this farce, and I couldn’t be more bewildered by or ashamed of the antics that now seem to spring from our nation’s capital like Athena from the head of Zeus. The parameters of the bill that is in the process of passage remain appropriately nebulous, but some things are clear: it’s a coup for the intransigent Republicans and a gigantic step backward for this very sad land. As a handful of seemingly rogue economists and other scholars have predicted, this piece of legislation threatens to turn back the clock on our recovery much more so than a default would have. By dawn, world markets will have spiked and many Americans will again sing hymns of god and country, but there’s nothing to be proud of in the wake of all this silliness. While I may have been wrong about the scope of the debt debate, it was still a major test of our leaders’ priorities and their willingness to actively transcend personal interests in pursuit of a greater good.
And make no mistake — they failed.