Reading Krugman's blogging about proposed and counterproposed fiscal-cliff deals is like reading a day-to-day history of the Korean War peace negotiations--"I’m agonizing, big time; as of last night I was marginally positive, right now marginally negative"--so I'd like to offer, to Prof. Krugman, this advice. Endorse no compromise. Not this time.
Ordinarily I'm a big defender of the art. Compromise is, after all, the essence of politics, notwithstanding the intensity of the far right's and activist progressives' commonplace exhortations to just fight, fight, fight to the bitter end, which are more pretentious than strategic.
In today's circumstances, however, I find myself among their ranks, although not for ideological or idealistic reasons. Rather, I believe we've arrived at a critically decisive juncture with respect to the essence of governance and raw power, much as Lincoln did in 1861--a juncture at which he could either compromise the Union into oblivion, or he could crush the South into submission.
In the 42 days since the election, we've learned this much about the GOP's "new" politics: It possesses no will to fundamentally change. Republicans are geopolitically cornered and they know it; yet rather than modify or moderate, they're entrenching. Although I suspect they'll relent on their debt ceiling threats at the eleventh hour, even the run-up to more extortionist brutality and protection-racket politics reveals a party unalterably bereft of conscience or integrity or even the most rudimentary commitment to responsible governance. It seems their indulgence of nihilism is complete.
So screw 'em. No compromise, no life rafts, no concessions from which they'll only triumphantly wave freshly bloodied shirts. Let them sweat it out. And then you, Prof. Krugman, can stop agonizing.