Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hubris Under Glass

For our entire staff, and many others we know in the political and media worlds, the many novels of Stephen King have been, if nothing else, great entertainment over the last 30 years. One of Mr. King's more recent books, "Under the Dome," has even been made into a TV series this summer, that Nielsen watchers say has been summer ratings gold - even if the acting is less than stellar.

We honestly think Mr. King might have been able to make his disaster/sci-fi TV mini-series on a smaller budget, had he just filmed a series of documentaries about how Americans are faring under the all-too-real catastrophe of sequestration.

Yes, sequestration - the topic that makes every myopically focused, ratings addicted media executive scream in terror - is back in the news, for those who are done freaking out about the birth of the progeny of the House of Windsor.

From the military to the legal system, and from housing to Head Start, while much of the media has continued to ignore the effects of the sequester, the facts are clear that the sequester is already slamming those Americans who often work hardest and can afford these cuts the least. Meanwhile, Congress - and especially House Republicans - continue to remain safely under their own version of a dome, politically protected from most of the damage their near total incompetence has created.

Real cracks are beginning to show in parts of that dome though, as evidenced by the remarks of former U.S. Senator and current U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Monday, at the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Hagel admitted flat-out that the sequester is already destroying America's military readiness - and warned that things will get worse if Congress doesn't get off their asses and do something.

Sadly, as both Greg Sargent and Steve Benen have discussed for months now, this kind of sabotage governing - if it can be called governing at all - is about the only thing the extremist Republicans in the House will allow right now.

What's worse, as Sahil Kapur points out, in House GOP draft legislation for the 2014 budget, House Republicans are bullheadedly insisting that even more austerity cuts be made to nearly every corner of government, from the EPA, to the arts, to parks, fish and wildlife. Every corner, that is, except the ones that touch the fat asses of those who think they're protected under their own political dome.

For all those who still blame President Obama for not single-handedly rescuing the entire American economy, the fact is, President Obama can't do entirely on his own what's needed to get the American economy really humming again. That doesn't mean that he's not doing what he can, using the bully pulpit and the power of the Presidency this week to pivot the economy into the center of public discussion once again.

Congress, however - and especially the House Republican caucus - continues to remain blindingly ignorant of the fact that like Mr. King's summer mini-series, their own dome of political protection isn't going to last forever.

If members of Congress want to have something to show their constituents when they run for re-election in 2014, to prove that they can indeed govern, now would be the time for them to drop their ideological shields, in favor of very real compromise.

Will that happen? Not bloody likely.