Amidst the Professional Left’s sackcloth and ashes routine about a debt deal result which they helped engineer–by kneecapping President Obama at every turn and depressing turnout in the midterm elections, giving us Speaker Boehner and the
petulant children unrepentant racists/mighty party of Tea–was this extraordinary sight:
Nearly eight full months after being shot in the head by a political terrorist (who could hear the dog whistle from his house), Rep. Gabrielle Giffords made a surprise appearance today to vote for the debt ceiling plan. I draw two conclusions from this event: first, if the extent of potential human depravity is staggering, the capacity of human courage and compassion is equally great…something which is deeply encouraging in often difficult times. Second, if Giffords could make this kind of an effort to attend this vote, there must be something she saw of value in it.
And indeed there was: the ending of a hostage crisis, the establishment of some basic sanity to political discourse, and a plan which–shockingly!–seems to have, again, left Boehner and company with a bitter taste in their mouths. As this article from The People’s View succinctly demonstrates, in the end this plan is a bad loss for Republicans, and begins a long overdue process of adding back two critical factors into the American public discourse: taxes can be not only acceptable but often desirable, when fairly distributed (and we have a long way to go to reach that state of affairs), and the absurdly bloated defense budget is long, long overdue for trimming–nay, slashing–nay, clear-cutting. If the debt ceiling debate produced nothing else, these two outcomes would have been enormously beneficial, but as Deaniac from TPV points out, it produced much more.
None of this is to say that this is a delightful state of affairs, or that negotiating with irrational hostage takers is a fun way to spend time which ought be spent on figuring out how to address critical concerns about foreign policy, the environment, clean energy, civil rights, restoring economic fairness and creating jobs. But it is to say that again, as usual, President Obama has turned something disastrous into something potentially game-changing.
Courage from Rep. Giffords. Competence from President Obama. Such things require commitment from us–a commitment I hope most Americans will have the wisdom to provide in the weeks and months ahead.