Dr. Steven A. Leibo is the Sage Professor of International History & Politics
He blogs at Leibo’s Word Watch
Frankly, I am not surprised that so many are calling Standard and Poor’s historic downgrade of America’s financial reputation, the Tea Party Downgrade. After all the rating agency made it clear that their real concern was not just the ever mounting US debt that Americans have still not gotten a handle on, that debt burden that had been under control when President Clinton left office. But which ballooned as George W. Bush cut taxes on the rich while taking on two new wars and another medical entitlement.
The very same debt that exploded even more as President Obama fought to hold off another great depression back in 2008 with every financial tool the president had available including, quite correctly employing a massive stimulus spending plan however dangerous that sort of thing can be in the long run.
Now granted, I admit I am not all that impressed with Standard and Poor’s rating judgments. I mean let’s get real here – we are talking about the same folks that were giving their highest kudos to the very financial institutions that almost dragged us all into the sewer back in 2008. And we’ve already heard their numbers were messed up at the off set.
But their focus, as President Obama did as well on the increasingly dysfunctional nature of the American political system was right on the mark. As was the conservatives’ former Leader John McCain, when he likened the Tea Party activists to hobbits imagining themselves in a battle with the most evil forces of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Yes, it is clear the unwillingness of the Tea Party, in the face of advice from more experienced politicians, republican and democrat, alike to compromise, the Tea Party’s willingness to play brinksmanship with the world economy and millions of American jobs certainly has earned them the right to have their name on this infamous and unprecedented downgrade, The Tea Party Downgrade.
But frankly I am not so sure. I think that is letting the real perpetrators of our mess off the hook, because it’s not just the Tea Party that brought us to this impasse. After all the left has plenty to explain as well. All those phony patriots, whether right or left who seem unable to understand the essence of democracy with its emphasis on compromise, concession and above all being practical.
Yes, all those purists who would rather be right than effective, everyone knows the sort I am talking about. They were there back in 68 when they refused to support the extraordinarily qualified Hubert Humphrey because their hero Bobbie Kennedy had been killed, living the rest of us to deal with Nixon for years.
The same sort who fawned over the inexperienced and unelectable Ralph Nader while turning their backs on Al Gore, the most environmentally minded national politician this country has ever produced. Not forgetting Obama’s fair weather supporters who seem to have been shocked when their beloved candidate has turned out to be willing to compromise just like every successful political leader must.
We all know them —– those types on the left who think corporations are by definition evil, folks, literally the mirror image of their right wing cousins who believe again by faith, that governments should never have any role in the economy, forgetting of course all those government private capital cooperative efforts from the Erie and Panama canals, to the transcontinental railroads or the internet that built America’s economic strength.
Folks on the left and the right, ideologues all who would rather be right than effective. Ok, sure it may be true that the tea party deserve the primary credit for this historic financial downgrade. But we can’t let the rest of the ideologues, left or right off the hook either