When I saw Dana Milbanks's headline, "Debauchery: An American specialty," along with the Opinion-page tease, "Misbehaving government workers are just like us," I expected a theme much different from what he delivered:
[T]he Secret Service ... scandal, like the General Services Administration’s spending spree in Las Vegas, should serve to refute claims that the federal workforce is out of touch with ordinary Americans.... [I]t’s hardly surprising that bad actors and buffoons find their way into the public sector as well as the private.
Why unsurprising? "We are, after all," writes Milbank, "the land of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Snooki."
That's true enough, but it's scarcely dismaying or revealing enough. Because although the Secret Service has been Snookified, so to speak, and the GSA indeed has its Paris Hiltons, the public sector's truly "bad actors and buffoons" were embedded for years at the very highest levels -- at the Bush White House and in the Republican Congress, and many of these actors are still with us, acting just as badly.
You want consummate American debauchery? Try the prosecution of two wars -- one of them utterly unprovoked -- without so much as a dime of tax increases to help fund them. In fact, go ahead and prosecute both wars on the heels of having slashed federal revenue -- twice -- thus gutting the preexisting surplus and providing a dandy fiscal format with which to then assail one's successor for his obscene deficit spending.
If that debauchery isn't enough for you, then move up to the pornographic, Bush-Cheney-GOP's torture regime, or their assorted felonies of warrantless wiretapping, or their non-funding of a Medicare program to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, or their delusional deification of the predatory free market and its buccaneering marketeers, who cost us trillions.
If you want real debauchery and abject pornography and the most distasteful obscenities to be had, don't look to Snooki or the Secret Service. Just look to yesterday, which still binds, if not rules, today.