Inquirer Editorial: Amid crisis, a scary deficit of leadership

President Obama has been unable to get the votes for revenue measures to reduce the size of the deficit.
President Obama has been unable to get the votes for revenue measures to reduce the size of the deficit. (LIVIER DOULIERY / Abaca Press / MCT)
Posted: August 14, 2011

Brian McGrory

is a Boston Globe columnist

I'm pleading with John Kerry to knock it off with the "tea-party downgrade" line, especially now that he's been named to the budget-cutting "supercommittee." I'm begging President Obama to cut it out with the embarrassing "We've always been and always will be a triple-A country" stuff. I'm urging John Boehner to find some spine in dealing with the extremists in his party.

We're in epic trouble, ladies and gentlemen, and it could get a lot worse. Our government has seized up in its tracks, and if somebody somewhere doesn't rise to the occasion, the nation and its people are in for a whole new world of pain.

The stock market volatility of the last couple of weeks is at its core a cry for help. Traders, investors, the business community - they are all pleading for some adult supervision.

So how do our politicians react in this time of need? They do the only thing they know how to do: They point fingers. They try to gain political advantage. They speak in slogans rather than solutions.

The nation now sits on the precipice of a second recession, with chronic joblessness, massive debt, and entitlement programs that are, at best, difficult to sustain. What we need is statesmanship. What we get is noise.

If you feel the need to blame, and it's become the way of the day, then blame Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.), who used the occasion of a market crash to warn his colleagues not to succumb to pressure and compromise.

Blame House Speaker Boehner (R., Ohio), who walked away from a deal with Obama because some in his caucus were upset that he had the audacity to deal with Democrats.

Blame Obama, who seems to be a unique kind of president - one entirely unburdened by conviction. That he is at least saying he wants to create more jobs, and offering something beyond the tea-party mantra of "No," is more frustrating because of his unwillingness to take a stand.

There's plenty of blame to go around. But blame isn't going to cut our debt or find anyone a job.

We're supposed to be better than this - able to bridge differences and find solutions in the name of the common good. We're supposed to be able to bounce back from wars, disasters, depression, and more.

But as a nation looks to its government in the face of another fiscal crisis, there is nothing good to see. Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, this is a sad and scary time.

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