This being the Christmas season, I’m going to give the nation’s political leaders a little gift, an excuse for bringing America to the edge of a so-called
It’s easy to look back at other moments in our history when members of
And today, on an issue that is far less weighty but not inconsequential, why can't the people in charge in Washington get their act together and come up with a budget compromise before the deadline arrives for automatic, drastic program cuts and tax hikes that would blunt the economic recovery and make life more miserable for millions of people? Why can they not follow the Nike motto and "Just do it"?
Well, why are you boycotting a holiday dinner because some friend or relative was a jerk last year and you cannot forgive him? Why do you shun that co-worker whose politics are 180 degrees different than your own? Why do you hate the New York Yankees or think men are all pigs or insist that gays can be straightened out with a little therapy and prayer? It is because we are all human and human beings have shown an unending capacity to hold grudges, subscribe to idiotic ideologies, cling to tribal identities and go down fighting for foolish causes.
Politicians are no better than we are. They do not like to lose or give ground easily. They think they are right and the other side is not just wrong, but stupidly, mendaciously, even treasonously wrong. And perhaps more than Congresses of the not-too-distant past, our current Congress is filled with men and women who value dubious "principles" more than useful pragmatism and consider compromise an unusually long four-letter word.
We get the politicians we deserve. Legislators do mirror the electorate rather well. Given that about a fourth of voters have indicated in numerous polls that they believe crazy things – Saddam Hussein was responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks;
Our finest leaders have been people who are better than we are. Consider our best Republican presidents. They have been men who were bigger than their party –