Barack Obama started the week playing golf with John Boehner a few days before going on TV to proclaim a foreseeable victory in the Middle East, hoping no one would notice he was wearing handcuffs all the time.
Now, with Republicans walking out on debt ceiling talks and the Afghan victory lap clearly a mirage, the President’s chains are inescapably visible. Eric Cantor and Jon Kyl have him as tied up in Washington as Hamid Karzai does in Kabul.
The White House may still be living in some dimly remembered Age of Reason, but intransigence is clearly the prevailing political climate. A New York Times editorial decries the GOP “temper tantrum,” pointing out that they “had no intention of actually negotiating. Negotiations require listening to those on the other side and giving them something they want in exchange for some of your goals.”
Meanwhile, post-bin Laden discoveries are showing how closely our Pakistani allies and clients have been working with Al Qaeda while taking billions of U.S. aid money
In all this, we are still debating our future at home and abroad based on a fantasy world that bears little relation to what pre-9/11 Americans would recognize as reality.
Ten years ago, this nation had a budget surplus, unemployment of 4.4 percent and no wars. The foreign news headlines were about Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic being handed over to U.N. officials to be tried for war crimes against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
Much has happened to take us downhill since then, some of it inescapable, most not, but a long, hard look at what we have been doing to ourselves would involve asking how we turned into a Third World country fueled by political blackmail and spite.
Barack Obama won’t be in the White House forever, and whatever his shortcomings, do we really want to live in a country where there is no room for reasonable debate or compromise on anything?
Handcuffs won’t look good on the Presidential seal.