NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

March 9, 2013

Shribman: Salvaged by stupidity

WASHINGTON — Nobody is going to win the Battle of Sequester Gulch. The Republicans are going to lose, the Democrats are going to lose, President Barack Obama is going to lose, the economy is going to lose, the nation’s image is going to lose, and the entire political class is going to lose. It’s not every day that Washington pulls such an arresting inside straight.

“Only Congress could find a way to cut spending and put the economy at risk and cripple the military,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said in an interview the other day. “That’s pretty impressive. We need to think of a new word that means ‘beyond stupid.’ We need to go to adjective school and find one.”

Former Democratic Sen. Paul Kirk Jr. of Massachusetts wandered over to the conversation and added: “I shake my head watching this.”

But it’s not only Congress that looks bad. The White House often seems more interested in assessing blame than in ascertaining whether a deal might be made. And earlier this month, it contrived to shift responsibility for the capital stalemate by one of the smarmiest stunts in a generation: It canceled White House tours.

That may seem innocent enough — until you realize that visitors to Washington get their tour tickets from congressional offices, which will be in the position of delivering the bad news.

In the unlikely event you don’t intuitively know the case against both parties, here’s a political primer for our time:

The case against the Republicans

They limped out of the 2012 elections bleeding from multiple wounds — their presidential candidate stumbled over immigration, portrayed the very people whose votes he needed as slugs with their palms up for a government handout and showed no affinity for understanding the middle-class Americans who his advisers told him were the swing voters.

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