At some point within the last few days the NY Times' Bill Keller dropped to his knees and prayed to the gods for a vision of the Platonic "both sides are to blame" Ideal. Many journalistic supplicants have begged the darkening heavens for such a human epiphany, so that each might impart to us benighted ones a final, heroic assessment--divinely derived, sublimely prudent, supremely nonpartisan--of Washington's equally distributed sinfulness.
Many have failed, in a kind of tragicomic way; the gods are playful and fickle. But by Zeus Bill Keller reveals, in "Obama's Fault," the most perfect heavenly bullshit--known as earthly "false equivalence"--yet inspired.
A fair taste of his balanced nectar:
[I]t is true that much of the responsibility for our perpetual crisis can be laid at the feet of a pigheaded Republican Party, cowed by its angry, antispending, antitaxing, anti-Obama base. When it comes to distributing blame for the consequences of sequester--jobs lost, investments put on hold, downgraded credit ratings and withering G.D.P., not to mention the longer lines at airport security--the polls show a plurality of voters are likely to take it out on the Republicans. If all you care about is winning more Democratic seats in the 2014 midterms, then you can sit back and enjoy the show.
But if you care about the long-term health of the country ... [then you should know the] large mess we are in is in no small part the result of missed opportunities and political miscalculation at 1600 Pennsylvania.
"In no small part...," which means the WH is responsible in moderate or large part--a judgment left entirely to the knowledge-seeking reader--particularly since Republican responsibility is pegged with immense ambiguity at merely "much." How much is much? As much, or as little, as you like; that much is clear. Just know the WH's responsibility is not small.
And what, pray tell, is the WH essentially responsible for? Yea, verily, Republican pigheadedness, Republican anger, Republicans' "antispending, antitaxing, anti-Obama base" and all the Republican-incited "jobs lost, investments put on hold, downgraded credit ratings and withering G.D.P."
Speaking of which, what inexorably follows is Keller's primal cri de coeur that if only, if only Obama had dropped to his knees at the marmoreal splendor of Simpson-Bowles, however "imperfect" its sainted offenses against both left and right. But you knew that was coming.
Some of what Keller points out is indeed familiar holy script to the politically self-righteous, among whom I must count myself, in that they--we--stood athwart the perils of the 2011 budget deal and recent fiscal-cliff compromise and yelled Stop! Yet presidents, most of whom also "care about the long-term health of the country," are not always permitted to do the principled thing, which is to say, simply say "Fuck off." Instead, as in Obama's case, they perforce stumble from crisis to crisis, and thus from expediency to expediency, merely to prevent the whole wretched structure from collapsing around us. So, there's that, which has the agreeable effect of at least taming self-righteousness.
Well, it does mine, anyway. But not Bill Keller's. For his Circean eye hath witnessed the yin-yang perfection of symmetry, in which President Obama is as responsible for Republican pigheadedness as are the Republican pigs.