Debt Ceiling Fun Party

daffy duckSoon we’ll all be treated to another “debt-ceiling” showdown. There is nothing in our national politics more silly or contrived or cynical or stupid than the idea that the U.S. Congress should decide to renege on its own debts, downgrade its own credit worthiness, and raise its own future borrowing costs. Wait, did we say “its own” borrowing costs? We mean “our” borrowing costs. Thanks, know-nothing wing of the party of wealth! Thanks for holding us hostage. When it comes to lunatic lawmakers, you rock! Your work on climate change has been, well, out of this world! And your efforts to strangle the economic recovery have been outstanding. And who can hate everything that Obama does the way you do? No one! But this hostage taking should cement your legacy forever. You guys rock.

The last time this same “crisis” was forced into being, the Wisconsin State Journal bungled its response, and bungled it memorably. Perhaps you recall. Yes, they were exasperated, so that was fine, but then they transformed it into one of their most thoroughly dumb and dishonest editorials in memory, and our memory for this sort of thing is pretty good.

In it, they managed to portray the whole farce — not as extortion by the GOP’s newest, most unhinged, most extremist wing, which it was — but rather as a battle between the extremes of both parties, which it wasn’t. How does a board of so-called “journalists” ever wash away the embarrassment of publishing this:

The ideologically-driven progressives on the far left and the rigid tea party crowd on the far right seem equally entrenched against building consensus around workable solutions.

But at some point, the relentless finger-pointing and blaming of “the other side” needs to stop so America’s very real and complicated problems can be addressed in meaningful ways.

What amazing and dishonest tripe. The crisis had been manufactured entirely by one side, indeed by one faction within that one side.

It’s well known that the State Journal editorial board has an extremely difficult time criticizing Republicans. In order to publish any sort of criticism, they must first employ the magic juju words: Democrats. just. as. bad. Of course, sometimes the Democrats ARE just as bad. But sometimes they’re not. Responsible commentary distinguishes between these times. And in the last debt-ceiling farce, the Dems were not to blame. The Republicans were acting like unsupervised 7th graders. Sorry, 7th graders… that was undeserved. Let’s say kindergarteners. Well, that’s wrong, too. The Republicans were behaving very badly. Let’s just leave it at that.

Now we’re going to re-live the whole farce again. The lunatic fringe of the right has spent so much time with Fox News and Limbaugh and others that many of them are actually convinced that the new healthcare law is apocalyptic, despite the fact that the healthcare law models the 20-year-old ideas of the conservative Heritage Foundation. How does this rightwing fringe keep getting weirder and weirder?

We can’t help feeling this whole mess has been aided by the willingness of far too many working journalists to soften what is clearly going on, and for the opinion arms of journalism to treat seriously what is just unprecedentedly stupid. Obviously, the role of the Wisconsin State Journal, by itself, is insignificant in this nation-sized mess. But, of course, they weren’t alone and they never are.

It seems more and more likely our local scribes will have another chance to discuss this. Will they do better this time around?