Glenn Reynolds has an aphorism that he trots out every now and than — mainly about the global warmening alarmists, but it fits in a lot of places: “I’ll believe there is a crisis when the people who say it’s a crisis act like it’s a crisis.” It’s a handy rule of thumb.
But I find myself needing a corollary: what do you do when you think there’s a crisis, but those in charge of addressing it don’t act like it?
This week, we passed the debt ceiling. Instead of bringing the federal government to a crashing halt, instead government bean-counters figured out ways to keep rearranging deck chairs on our fiscal Titanic to buy a few more months’ grace. But we still have no actual solution to the problem.
Tomorrow marks 60 days since President Obama declared UnWar on Libya, triggering the War Powers Resolution. At this point, he either needs explicit Congressional authorization to continue, or start drawing down the fight — and ending it in 30 days. There’s no authorization bill in the pipeline, and the House is out of session this week, so there won’t be a bill. President Obama is about to be in clear violation of the law — albeit a law whose Constitutionality has been credibly questioned, but never once tested. Will it be challenged this time? Or will it be ignored? That is grounds for impeachment, but we all know that will never fly.
I’ve had this feeling before. All last year, I howled and kicked about how the Democrats hadn’t bothered to pass a budget, instead kicking that can down the road until this spring — after the Republicans took back the House, where the budget process has to start. And we still don’t have one for this year.
I know that there are a lot of demands on the federal government. There are a lot of tasks and challenges and duties and obligations that need to be answered. But these are some of the most fundamental aspects of governing — making a budget, managing debt, respecting the law.
If the people we’ve entrusted with the power of governance can’t do that, it raises some very troubling questions. Questions like “why the hell can’t they do these simple things?” and “what the hell are they doing that they think is more important?” and “when are they going to get off their asses and even start dealing with these?”
As atrocious as Jimmy Carter was as president, one thing you can’t say about him is that he just ignored problems and hoped they’d go away.