Don't read another word of this post until you've taken a stiff drink.
Feeling pluckier? That's good, because ...
By a 44-22 percent margin, Americans oppose raising the debt ceiling.
Those NBC/WSJ polling statistics are bookended, however, by this:
The June 2011 NBC/WSJ poll showed 39 percent opposing raising the debt ceiling, versus 28 percent who supported it. But a month later--after the issue received more attention--those numbers flipped: 38 percent favored raising it, while 31 percent opposed it.
Overcoming publicus ignoransus is a Sisyphean task. Only two years ago Obama started with the immediately aforementioned numbers. He labored for weeks at turning them around--Oh, we get it, these are past bills due--and yet now here he is, looking again at the public's same preposterous cluelessness, as though 2011 never happened. And this time, he's some unfavorable winds at his back. See: Syria.
Perhaps given the proximity of this fiscal crisis to the last Obama will be able--notwithstanding the Syrian blowback--to turn the numbers around more quickly. Much as the public's abhorrence of U.S. military action in Syria congressionally nixed it, so to could the public's educated abhorrence of default swiftly persuade enough GOP fiscal hawks that brinkmanship with the nation's credit just isn't worth it.
But President Obama will have to move fast off the foreign policy dime and onto matters domestic. He at last will need to embark on that public enlightenment tour--a presidential series of gentle talks on Good Government 101--which I began haranguing the White House about at the beginning of this year, when it looked as though we'd bump into the debt limit as early as May. Well now it's May September damn near October and we've just about reached our limit and we're still as ignorant as ever.
Have another drink.