On Friday’s budget deal, I’m basically with Andy and Mark, though with no slight intended on House Republicans, who I think did what we sent them there to do, and in fact did it better than any of us expected.
“Art of the possible” is the key phrase here. The thing about representative government is, you can’t expect politicians to get too far out ahead of the voting public. The sheer appalling scale of our fiscal troubles hasn’t really sunk in with the public at large, nor even with conservatives at large. Given the general level of awareness, Boehner & Co. did darn well.
Yet still Andy and Mark are right: there’s a terrible disconnect — an order-of-magnitude disconnect — between the billions and tens of billions Congress was bickering over and the trillions and tens of trillions we shall actually have to deal with.
That’s not the politicians’ fault, but it does make the Friday deal pretty irrelevant. When politicians aren’t relevant (because they can’t be, because there isn’t the public will to let them be), then events take over.
That’s just how it is in a representative system. Sometimes politics shape events, diverting a river here, building a dam there. Other times events shape politics, a flood of irresistible facts sweeping the politicians helplessly before it. Friday’s deal marked the end of the first type of situation. We’re into the second kind of situation now, or soon will be.