At his afternoon newser President Obama just reintroduced what seems a radically foreign idea to the House tea party caucus: that "one faction of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government" can huff, puff, blow and bluster, but it cannot--and in this instance will not--dictate that government's course. The founders were pretty firm on that point, especially given their antipathy to political factions to begin with, which, ironically, today's "Tea Partiers" are reaffirming as enormously judicious all over again.
This is basic stuff. Indeed it comes no basic-er, as President Obama noted right off: Congress has two essential functions--to pass budgets and pay the nation's bills. Neither function should be subject to endless stipulations and add-ons and amendments of mind-boggling extraneousness. There are 364 days to bicker about such additional things. But at least one day a year? Just pass a goddamn budget. Do your goddman job. And shut the fuck up till tomorrow. That's not exactly a quote, but it's close.
Over the weekend I read an advance copy of Chris Matthews' Tip and the Gipper, which is so far superior to his Kennedy book ... Never mind. This isn't the place for a review. I merely wanted to observe its singular, well-made theme: There really was a time--and it wasn't that long ago--when two strong political leaders of vastly different worldviews worked together while fighting like the ardent partisans they were. Both were grownups, and both understood the importance of getting stuff done, while also understanding that what could be done would never satisfy either leader entirely.
And yet this afternoon, today's grownup went to the podium in the White House briefing room, all alone.