|Sarah Palin and Senator Ted Cruz recite the Pledge of Allegiance |
at a rally in Washington DC. Photograph: Andrew Burton/Getty Images
I agree that the irresponsibility of the fringe elements of Congress is beyond comprehension. But the Republican Party is reaping what it has sowed. If the mainstream Republicans had any guts, they would have stepped up and eliminated this nonsense long ago. Last I heard there were 435 members of the House of Representatives, 232 of them being Republican. How is it that one senator who most people had never heard of six months ago seems to be playing the tune to which many are marching?
The answer, of course, is not that tough to find. Quite a few otherwise reasonable and patriotic representatives sold their souls to the fringe elements of their party in a cynical effort to retain those votes. It started during the 2010 campaign and proved to be an effective political strategy; the Republicans regained control of the House, though not the White one.
But those chickens come home to roost. Deals made while holding one's nose are still deals. We have often seen in American politics that if you have what it takes to get elected you may not have what it takes to govern. Current polls show that governing with "tea party deals" has been an abject failure.
I'm not absolving Democrats of all responsibility. There were a few times early in this process when some bipartisan statesmanship might have yielded results. But one would have to be in a partisan fog to not understand where the fault rests. What will be determined in the next few days is whether or not the damage will be limited to the party that caused it, or will it have a lasting effect on the entire country.
Even more ominous, as forecasted by the managing director of the International Monetary Fund on Meet the Press yesterday, is the prospect of damage to the world economy that could be devastating around the globe.
It is a time for political courage, a commodity in short supply these days. We keep hearing how Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neal did it. Admittedly the times were different and so were the players. But this is serious stuff that has brought down a hailstorm of sarcasm that may actually mask the precarious moment we face. We urgently need a few Americans to step forward armed more with wisdom than ambition, focused more on results than reelection. The country waits expectantly, almost desperately. It shouldn't be this way. We're better than this.
Meanwhile, Ted Cruz and his wacko band play on. His admiring followers swoon.
Offstage, Nero is picking up his fiddle.