Let me say it squarely: the Republicans are behaving shamelessly. They haven't given a damn about deficits for many years (Dick Cheney, 2004: "You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don't matter"), plus many wouldn't mind wrecking the economy if it might harm Obama's reelection chances (Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." And remember Republicans openly gloating at Chicago's failure to secure the Olympics?).
So, there. I'm off the fence on this issue. But I am still, generally, an independent, a centrist, a....well, according to Paul Krugman, a cult member. And he has a point. What the hell; I'll paste in his entire piece
"Watching our system deal with the debt ceiling crisis — a wholly self-inflicted crisis, which may nonetheless have disastrous consequences — it’s increasingly obvious that what we’re looking at is the destructive influence of a cult that has really poisoned our political system.
And no, I don’t mean the fanaticism of the right. Well, OK, that too. But my feeling about those people is that they are what they are; you might as well denounce wolves for being carnivores. Crazy is what they do and what they are.
No, the cult that I see as reflecting a true moral failure is the cult of balance, of centrism.
Think about what’s happening right now. We have a crisis in which the right is making insane demands, while the president and Democrats in Congress are bending over backward to be accommodating — offering plans that are all spending cuts and no taxes, plans that are far to the right of public opinion.
So what do most news reports say? They portray it as a situation in which both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent — because news reports always do that. And we have influential pundits calling out for a new centrist party, a new centrist president, to get us away from the evils of partisanship."
It reminds me of the press we used to get. Chowhound was the most extreme case of a sincere labor-of-love public service do-gooder big wet maraschino cherry kumbaya kiss. If Pollyanna had a web site, Chowhound would have been it: nice people encouraging nice people to share tips about yummy yum-yums, with no ads or commercialism. It was a sugar sandwich on sugar bread frosted with sugar and eaten off a sugar plate.
Reporters loved the site - what's not to love? - and effusively praised it to me, privately. But then they'd write these reserved, tight-assed profiles...as if they didn't want to appear uncool. And their signature move was to strain for gratuitous dirt to serve as counterbalance.
They'd approach our competitors for "the other side of the story", which they'd gleefully supply. And a handful of jealous food writers - former friends of mine - enjoyed an ongoing trickle of national publicity by supplying catty remarks on cue. None of their tropes were legitimate, it was all bullshit. At one point, I actually considered creating a document to send to reporters listing bona fide negatives about me and the site, so they could have their blessed balance without circulating untruths.
That said, I still always recognized that reporters are not supposed to take a stand - or even appear to. If Jesus came back to hand out lollipops, they'd need to find disgruntled diabetic atheists to cluck their tongues. And that's as it should be...usually. We don't want journalists supplying just one side of the story. Talk radio is no worthy model. And, as a result, there's a brisk trade in concocted dissent re: all matters under the sun. A trumped-up yang for every worthy yin.
But as with Chowhound, there aren't two legitimate sides to this particular story. When one party holds the fiscal well-being of the nation ransom to advance their reactionary agenda, that's not conflicting philosophies. That's not partisanship out of control. That's not two breeds of ineffectual bums. No, that's unpatriotic self-serving assholes amply deserving rebuke.
And I'm well aware - as I'm sure you are - that this is mere opportunism, and that of course the freaking debt ceiling will be raised (for six months, anyway; the goal clearly being to entrench this opportunism as a periodic lever). But not before the business climate, hair-trigger sensitive about future interest rates, is chilled, markets tumble, and our rock-like world-leading fiscal steadfastness - America's premier asset - is irreparably eroded by the widespread horror at this cynical game of "chicken"
Talk about being on the wrong side of history! A century from now, historians will recall this action as the baldest villainy.
So, there, Paul Krugman, I've said it!