Paul Krugman describes the current crisis in Washington and its parallels with the collapse of Poland at the end of the eighteenth century:
…given the state of American politics, the way the Senate works is no longer consistent with a functioning government. Senators themselves should recognize this fact and push through changes in those rules, including eliminating or at least limiting the filibuster. This is something they could and should do, by majority vote, on the first day of the next Senate session.
Don’t hold your breath. As it is, Democrats don’t even seem able to score political points by highlighting their opponents’ obstructionism.
It should be a simple message (and it should have been the central message in Massachusetts): a vote for a Republican, no matter what you think of him as a person, is a vote for paralysis. But by now, we know how the Obama administration deals with those who would destroy it: it goes straight for the capillaries. Sure enough, Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, accused Mr. Shelby of “silliness.” Yep, that will really resonate with voters.
After the dissolution of Poland, a Polish officer serving under Napoleon penned a song that eventually — after the country’s post-World War I resurrection — became the country’s national anthem. It begins, “Poland is not yet lost.”
Well, America is not yet lost. But the Senate is working on it.
The problem with locating the root of the problem in what has become a dysfunctional Senate, is that it turns the administration into a victim. Krugman might bemoan the White House’s ineffectual defense mechanisms but he’s essentially sidelining the heart of the problem: a weak president.