For once, Mitt Romney is right. Tuesday's election is likely to resolve little, settle nothing, and merely postpone the greatest confrontation between the executive and legislative branches since Clinton's impeachment. Says Mitt:
You know that [when] the President is re-elected, he will still be unable to work with the people in Congress ... The debt ceiling will come up again, and shutdown and default will be threatened, chilling the economy.
I have bracketed reality as a substitution for Romney's conditional "if," and the only other way to make my introduction work--"Romney is right"--is to insert an ellipsis in place of Romney's characteristic wrongheadedness: "He has ignored them, attacked them, blamed [the people in Congress]." With those revisions, we can then say that Mitt Romney has accurately seen the past, present and future.
We've a bloodbath long in the making.
It's true that attacks and blame have indeed prospered and multiplied, but any fair reading of the president's relations with congressional Republicans reveals a decided one-sidedness that is simply yet staggeringly irreconcilable with Romney's recent history. There's no need to rehash here the GOP's systematic hostility to Obama from Day One; it suffices to note that whatever progress the president and his congressional allies have made is extraordinary in the face of that systematic hostility. And there's little to no reason to think the latter will cease on Wednesday morning.
At which point the debt ceiling, a government shutdown and a catastrophic default will again threaten, "chilling the economy," just as Romney predicts. This time, however, Obama's absolutism on fiscal matters will need to match the intensity of the GOP's--both sides have already drawn their sandy lines--and the outcome of only that showdown will decide the winner of Tuesday's election.