… snip //
The richest, most powerful nation on Earth is more than halfway through its fiscal year without having a budget. Lately, we’ve been operating on two- or three-week spending plans. This wild irresponsibility comes at a time when the nation is fighting wars in the Middle East and struggling to recover from the worst economic slump since the Great Depression—a time of great uncertainty and high anxiety about America’s place in the world. Now comes a serious threat to shut down the government, strictly as an act of political theater.
I blame the Democrats for not passing a budget last year, when they were supposed to, while they still had big majorities in both houses of Congress. I blame Republicans for their ever-changing demands, which seem to be coming from a caucus of 2-year-olds. But the point isn’t who’s responsible. The point is that in the larger sense, nobody’s responsible.
This is no way to run a banana republic, let alone a superpower. Leave aside, for the moment, the long-range challenges—sagging infrastructure, vanishing industry, growing inequality, underfunded entitlements, an overextended military. Leave aside the rise of China, the fall of Arab autocrats, global climate change and our stubborn addiction to oil. At one of the most basic duties of any government—make a budget, even if you don’t keep to it—our elected officials have utterly failed.
It’s the kind of incomprehensible failure that makes people conclude that the system is broken. It’s the kind of failure that makes voters want to look for a knight in shining armor, a caped crusader, a Man With No Name—maybe even a Man With an Inescapable Name. We’re lucky that polls show Obama well-positioned to defeat any of the Republicans mentioned so far. We’re also lucky that Trump’s “candidacy” is a piece of performance art.
And let’s hope Charlie Sheen keeps his tiger blood and Adonis DNA out of politics.