When big issues befall the country, it never fails; everyone scrambles to their corner, and uses the occasion to justify their own case.
Look at the NY Times Opinion page for today. David Brooks is looking for leadership, is disappointed in Obama’s, but he found it in Congress. Tom Friedman wants to get back to his priorities. Paul Krugman is shocked at the Democratic cave in. And from the Wash. Post, Dana Milbank says that Boehner has self-destructed his own leadership and party. Krauthammer wants to make sure the Boehner bill passes. Eugene Robinson looks for a “Big Idea” from the left.
The same thing happened right after September 11, 2001. There was a leadership vacuum, though virtually the entire country was unified in its response of seeking justice. We heard a huge variety of opinions, though: Love the terrorists, improve their economy and civil rights, and they will come to understand us. Bomb the bastards who did this to the Stone Age. And everything in between. The leadership vacuum was eventually filled by Neocons, and W’s vacant and marshmallow presidency was turned into a military spending spree, a war of choice, ridiculous tax cuts, and a ruined global economy. (W wasn’t responsible, he didn’t have the intelligence to do this much damage.)
The trouble with trouble is, it calls for even-handed leadership whose priority is justice. Too often, the Crazies fill the void, like wolves that have been waiting by the henhouse.
This is just the opposite of what a citizen (a.k.a., patriot, good person, common sense, leader, etc.) should do. Leaders do two things: they know what should happen, and they help others get there. Crazies make plans while they wait in the wings, and when chaos strikes, they pounce. Suddenly, it seems like the normal rules don’t apply, and the atmosphere is ripe for something bizarre to happen without the sane people recognizing it. The Crazies unfurl their disaster master plan.
That is what is happening with this debt limit issue. Sell off half the government! Make the rich even richer! And so on it goes.
The media is obscuring what drastic measures are in these bills before congress right now. Is the sensible middle staying vigilant? Are the true Citizens standing up and leading? The entire debt limit debate has taken an incomprehensible swing to the right. The rug of government has been pulled from the mainstream in a hurry, without time to digest, and make sensible decisions. Like the climax of a bad movie. Perhaps because things are moving so fast, perhaps because the circus of debate is so entertaining.