Politics, et Cetera
A publication from The Political Forum, LLC
Tuesday,October 15, 2013
They Said It:
The first hints of a philosophy of the ultimate revolution — the revolution which lies beyond politics and economics, and which aims at total subversion of the individual’s psychology and physiology — are to be found in the Marquis de Sade, who regarded himself as the continuator, the consummator, of Robespierre and Babeuf.
The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it.
Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful.
My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World.
Aldous Huxley, Letter to George Orwell, October 21, 1949.
THE TEA PARTY, THE GOP, AND THE END OF THE (POLITICAL) WORLD AS WE KNOW IT.
Over the course of the last week, most observers of American politics have come to something of a consensus with respect to the government shutdown and the debt-ceiling debate, that being that the Republicans have lost, and lost badly. According to this view, the Tea Partiers in the House, along with Ted Cruz and Mike Lee in the Senate, forced GOP leaders into a terrible spot, one which the public detests and from which there seems to be no escape. More specifically, the story goes, they took bold and aggressive steps, without ever thinking about what they’d do next; they forced a highly unpopular government shut down; and they panicked the bankers and the bond buyers for no good reason. Yes, they pushed the President and the Democrats in the Senate to negotiate, rallied their constituents, and made fiery speeches. But now what?
The Republican rebels have no apparent answer to this question. And that, in turn, is one of the reasons that most observers consider this “stunt” to have been a disaster. As the New York Times’ token conservative, Ross Douthat put, it, “there is still something well-nigh-unprecedented about how Republicans have conducted themselves of late. It’s not the scale of their mistake, or the kind of damage that it’s caused, but the fact that their strategy was such self-evident folly, so transparently devoid of any method whatsoever.”
Several widely read and widely respected polls last week showed unquestionably that Republicans have not fared well with the public during the shutdown. The Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, for example, found that a historically low 25 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of the GOP. Pluralities in nearly every sample blamed Republicans far more than Democrats and Obama for the current dysfunction in Washington. And even the much-watched “generic ballot” question shifted heavily away from the Republicans, causing some observers to rethink their early predictions for next year’s midterm elections.
Many pundits on the Right were so gobsmacked by the extent and nature of the disaster that they had to rely on lofty Francis Ford Coppola movie analogies to express their contempt. The aforementioned Ross Douthat compared the Tea-Party Republicans to the Marlon Brando character Colonel Kurtz in Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now,” arguing not that their methods are “unsound,” but that they appear not to have any method at all.
Likewise, the syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker compared the warring factions within the GOP to the Corleone brothers, Michael and Santino, from “The Godfather.” The Tea Partiers, Parker believes, are like the doomed eldest son Sonny, brash, obnoxious, and voted the most likely in his high school class to be gunned down in a hail of machine gun fire at the Long Beach causeway toll station. By contrast, she maintains that the establishment-Republicans are more like Michael: quiet and calm, but calculating.
This latter analogy is, like most movie analogies, stupid. In order for Parker’s proposed correlation to work, the establishment GOP would have to be . . . well . . . like Michael. It would have to be biding its time, learning its enemies’ weaknesses, drafting plans to assassinate Barzini, Sollozzo, Moe Greene, and the rest. In truth, the GOP establishment is nothing like Michael. Rather than calm, it is listless. Rather than cunning, it is transparent. Rather than shrewd, it is dim. In short, then, rather, than the Godfather-in-waiting, the Republican establishment is a placid clique of power-seekers content to nibble around the edges here, slow the rate of growth a bit there, and generally enjoy the generosity of the American and Chinese people, as long as that generosity holds up. When considering them, one thinks more of Fredo Corleone, the weak, derisory, cowardly brother who plays footsy with the family’s enemies and ends up a tragic figure, so duplicitous that his own brother decided he must be killed.
The acme of this attack was when conservative columnist and Fox News analyst Charles Krauthammer bemoaned the fact that the results of the Tea Party gambit were not only predictable, but were, in fact, predicted, which is to say that everyone knew that this crusade would fail, even before it began. “We told you so,” was the theme of the week on the establishment Right.
Of course, in a world where all politics is partisan politics, which is to say exclusively a battle between Republicans and Democrats, these paladins of the mainstream Right are correct when they charge that the Republicans have committed some serious errors of late. Moreover, they are correct when they say that they foresaw the consequences of these errors.
But as we noted two weeks ago, these folks are watching a largely meaningless skirmish on the periphery of the main field of battle. They, and the rest of the chattering class, are unable to see beyond the Manichean notion that American politics is and must always remain a fight between two – and ONLY two – opposing forces, namely the Republican and Democratic parties. Or to put this in another way, they are trapped in a rapidly disappearing world in which the complexity of the multi-faceted struggle for the soul of the nation is reduced to a simple binomial relationship; a world where one party’s losses are the other party’s gain.
As we have argued for just north of a decade-and-a-half now, this world is in the process of entering the proverbial dust bin of history. The old political templates no longer fit the current political environment. The rigidity of the two-party system has run its course and the new political equation features both a different set of variables and a different calculus by which the solution can be determined.
Contra the talking heads, the analysts, and the journalists, what is taking place here is not a run-of-the-mill partisan power play. Rather, it’s an internecine war on the Right over the direction of the Republican Party and, in turn, a war between the establishment and the proverbial insurgents over the direction of the country. Partisan politics is, in many ways, a mere sideshow.
Writing in the left-of-center New Republic last week, the hard-left journalist John Judis declared that “we could be witnessing the death throes of the Republican Party.” According to Judis, the shutdown and its related travails have “highlighted the cracks and fissures within the party,” perhaps foreshadowing the GOP’s ultimate demise. The Tea Partiers are killing the party and killing the delicate balance that has guided it for the last two decades at least. Specifically, he put it this way:
The party’s leadership has begun to lose control of its members in Congress. The party’s base has become increasingly shrill and is almost as dissatisfied with the Republican leadership in Washington as it is with President Obama. New conservative groups have echoed, and taken advantage of, this sentiment by targeting Republicans identified with the leadership for defeat. And a growing group of Republican politicians, who owe their election to these groups, has carried the battle into the halls of Congress. That is spelling doom for the Republican coalition that has kept the party afloat for the last two decades.
American party coalitions are heterogeneous, but they endure as along as the different groups find more agreement with each other than with the opposition. After Republicans won back the Congress in 1994, they developed a political strategy to hold their coalition together. Many people contributed to the strategy including Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, Paul Coverdell, Paul Weyrich, and Ralph Reed, but the chief architect was probably Grover Norquist, a political operative who, along with Rove and Reed, came of age in the early Reagan years. The strategy was based on creating an alliance between business, which had sometimes divided its loyalties between Republicans and Democrats, and the array of social and economic interest groups that had begun backing Republicans.
In weekly meeting held on Wednesdays at the office of his Americans for Tax Reform, Norquist put forth the idea that business groups, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), but also including the specialized trade associations, should back socially conservative Republican candidates, while right-to-life or gun rights organizations should back tax cuts and deregulation. What would bind the different parts together was a common opposition to raising taxes, which Norquist framed in a pledge he demanded that Republican candidates make. Business could provide the money, and the single-issue and evangelical groups the grassroots energy to win elections.
We find this analysis fascinating for numerous reasons. For starters, Judis, the author of a book about The Emerging Democratic Majority, recognizes that the Republican Party as it is currently constructed does not represent Republican voters particularly well. And, to his further credit, he understands both the fragility of the GOP coalition and the threat to that coalition that is extant in the shutdown/debt ceiling dispute. The other thing that is interesting about Judis’s take on the GOP is his mention of Grover Norquist’s Wednesday morning meeting as the linchpin in the entire GOP strategy.
We have to tell you that neither of us knows John Judis. We wouldn’t know him if he was sitting next to us on a barstool. Indeed, we had to Google him to know who he is and what he has written. All of which is to say that we don’t know whether he spent much time at the offices of Americans for Tax Reform in the 1990s. We doubt it, though, since it doesn’t really sound like his kind of crowd. But again, we don’t know for sure.
What we do know for sure is that we were there. We weren’t there every week. And we certainly didn’t have any role in the proceedings. Still, we were there. And, to be honest, we did not observe what Judis relays. He does do a good job of highlighting Grover’s belief in the importance of conservative evangelization and coordination. But he misses some of Grover’s more important contributions to conservative thought and strategy at the time.
As we have noted before in these pages, what is likely Grover’s greatest contribution to the conservative movement in the 1990s was his belief in the universality of conservatism; that is, its appeal to everyone, everywhere at some level. Sometimes, in our opinion at least, Grover was wrong about the specific applications of this theory. An example of this would be his widely recounted and widely lampooned belief that new immigrants to this country were natural conservatives, given their religiosity and related social views, and that conservatives needed merely to reach out to them to win their hearts and minds.
Most of the time, though, Grover was right. Most specifically, he was right about what he termed the “Leave Us Alone Coalition,” which was based on the theory that most people – and especially many groups which conservatives had long ignored and written off as permanently Democratic – wanted nothing more than for the federal government to butt out of their affairs. These people, Grover argued, would eventually be amenable to small government overtures, if they were presented as the means by which to get government to get off their backs. Specifically, he put it this way:
The idea of the Leave Us Alone Coalition is that everybody is there because on the issue that moves their vote—not all issues; they’re not all libertarians—but on the issue that moves their vote, what they want from the government is to be left alone. So around a table [are] the guys who want their money left alone, their guns left alone, their family left alone, their faith left alone, their homeschooling left alone. They’re in on one issue, the one they vote on.
This “leave us alone coalition,” we should note, is, in many ways, the foundation of the Tea Party, a diverse group of people, sometimes with conflicting interests, who nonetheless have come together in pursuit of the common objective of making the politicians in Washington pay attention to the concerns of the people, particularly with respect to fiscal policy. John Judis argues that Grover’s coalition building within the GOP puts him at odds with the Tea Party movement. But in reality, little could be further from the truth.
Judis, while cognizant of the intra-party nature of the current conflict, is nonetheless still unable to scrap the old paradigm entirely. In assessing the Tea Party’s threat to the establishment, he not only underestimates the power of the discontent extant in the country, but does so based on his own longstanding political prejudices. To wit:
Since the late 1960s, America has seen the growth of what the late Donald Warren in a 1976 book The Radical Center called “middle American radicalism.” It’s anti-establishment, anti-Washington, anti-big business and anti-labor; it’s pro-free market. It’s also prone to scapegoating immigrants and minorities. It’s a species of right-wing populism . . .
What Washington business lobbyists say on-the-record about the House Republicans and about Tea Party activists pales before what they are willing to say if their names aren’t used. One former Republican staffer says of the anti-establishment groups, “They want to go in and f**k s**t up. These non-corporate non-establishmentarian guys — that is exactly what they are doing. And the problem with that is obvious. What next? What happens after you f**k s**t up?” Other lobbyists I talked to cited John Calhoun, Dixiecrats and Richard Hofstadter’s essay on “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” to explain the rise of the populist right. It’s the kind of reference you’d expect to read in a New Republic article, but not necessarily in a conversation with a business lobbyist.
One could argue, of course, that the Republican Party will readapt to its rightwing base and eventually create a new majority of “true fiscal conservatives” who will disdain compromise. But . . . Rightwing populism, like its predecessor, Christian conservatism, is intense in its commitment, but ultimately limited in its appeal. Tea Party Republicans and the outsider groups probably had their greatest impact when they were still emerging phenomena in the 2010 elections. But when the Republican Party becomes identified with the radical right, it will begin to lose ground even in districts that Republicans and polling experts now regard as safe.
There is some truth in this, of course. But still, much of it misses the point. And it misses the point because Judis wants it to miss the point.
No doubt, there is a great deal of discontent among those whom Judis insists are the “radical center.” They are angry at government. They are angry at leaders on both sides of the aisle. They are unhappy with the direction of the country. But they are hardly alone.
If you look at the data recently gathered by pollsters, what you see is a country full of people – old, young, white, black, rich, poor, urban, rural – all of whom are incredibly unhappy with the federal government and the direction of the country. In the write-up of its most recent poll, the Associated Press put it this way:
Americans are finding little they like about President Barack Obama or either political party, according to a new poll that suggests the possibility of a “throw the bums out” mentality in next year’s midterm elections.
The AP-GfK poll finds few people approve of the way the president is handling most major issues and most people say he’s not decisive, strong, honest, reasonable or inspiring.
In the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll mentioned above – the poll that caused so much panic on the Right and forced everyone to scapegoat the Tea Party caucus on the Hill – the news is equally dismal for everyone concerned. Among other things, the poll finds that more Americans think the country is on the “wrong track” than at any point since the fiscal crisis/economic collapse of 2008. The Journal’s write-up reads as follows:
Pollsters for the Journal and NBC said the survey marked some of the most dramatic shifts they had seen in decades in public attitudes toward the well-being of the country, the direction of the economy and wider political sentiment.
The number who thinks the economy will worsen over the next year — 42% — has nearly doubled since September, while the number who think the country is on the right track has fallen by half.
Six in 10 Americans said, if they could, they would defeat and replace every member of Congress.
In short, then, EVERYONE in the country is unhappy, to some extent or another, with EVERYONE in Washington. The news of late is worse for Republicans, but it is, in fact, bad for everyone in Washington. This fits much more closely with our ongoing theme (lifted from our friend Angelo Codevilla) of the “country class vs. ruling class” paradigm. It also fits, more broadly, with Grover’s suggestion that the “leave us alone coalition” is far broader and far more populous than most political observers are willing to admit.
People like Charles Krauthammer, Kathleen Parker, and especially John Judis, choose to ignore or minimize this data and the implications that may consequently be drawn because doing so allows them to gore the ox they set out to gore in the first place. In the case of Krauthammer and Parker, that “ox” is the insurgent Republicans, who are going to screw Washington up so badly that no one will ever be able to fix it again. For Judis, it’s the redneck center, the people who, as he puts it, are “also prone to scapegoating immigrants and minorities.” The dumb-dumbs out in flyover country, who are racists and don’t understand politics, are the bad guys here. They keep messing up Washington. If they’d just butt out themselves, and leave all of this to the professionals, everything would be super! But they don’t. And therefore, they’re to blame for everything.
Many of the truly smart political commentators in this country – people like Ross Douthat and John Podhoretz – have argued that the Republicans’ choices of late have been truly delusional. As we noted above, Douthat goes so far as to say the GOP lacks any plans at all. That may well be true. But the defenders of the status quo, the trite and hackneyed observers who hew desperately to the old, unsound paradigm, are also delusional. They believe in a stability of sorts that no longer exists.
The fact of the matter is that this country is incredibly UNstable right now. And it is headed for a political showdown the likes of which the ruling class hasn’t seen in at least a half-century, if not more.
Fifteen years ago, in a piece on the Millennium generation, we warned that politics in the future – particularly as the millennials came of age – would be incredibly volatile. The millennials, we noted, had absolutely no sense of devotion or constancy. Among others, we cited Dale Celente of Trends Research Institute who argued that because of their demographic, social, and familial circumstances, millennials – and those who would follow them – would have “no loyalty of any kind – no family loyalty, no corporate loyalty. Party Loyalty? Are you kidding?”
The bulk of this, we think, has been borne out by the events of the last four or five years. In 2008, the millennials supported Barack Obama heavily, but they did so not out of partisan loyalty, but largely because of their personal circumstances. They liked the idea of electing the first black president and someone who promised, very directly, to “help” them specifically. In 2012, the millennials still voted for Obama, but did so with considerably less enthusiasm. They saved their most hearty endorsements for people like Ron Paul, the GOP’s crazy uncle in the attic who is, among other things, the anti-Obama.
Part of this, obviously, is the millennials restlessness, as Celente predicted. But another part of it is the fact that the millennials, and younger people more generally, are early adopters of technology and, by extension, of the freedom, independence, and sense of disconnectedness that today’s technology enables. In a recent column, the pollster Scott Rasmussen warns Democrats and other denizens of Washington that this is NOT a trend that is exclusive to millennials. “In the iPad era,” Rasmussen suggests, “people’s lives are decentralizing and services are becoming more customized. Community solutions are being found closer to home. Giving more power to a-one-size-fits-all federal government is out of synch with that reality.”
All of this sets up a massive confrontation, which will play out over the next several years and election cycles. The details of this confrontation should, by now, be familiar to anyone who has been paying attention. On the one side, you will have the people – the “country class,” if you will, or the “leave us alone coalition”. These men and women will bristle at the notion of being told what to do by centralized government and its central economic planners. They will reject federal directives on a host of diverse issues, from health insurance to environmental regulation, from immigration to drug policy. They will vote, more and more, to limit their interactions with big government and with what they see as the parasites associated with it, including lobbyists, government contractors, and rent-seeking corporations. Additionally, they will utilize developing technologies to enable their withdrawal from national-level politics.
On the other side, you will have the ruling class, which is to say the people who believe that Reagan had it wrong and that government does indeed tell the people what to do, rather than the other way around. This faction will include the usual suspects – politicians, lobbyists, contractors, the bureaucracy, and the corporatists who benefit mightily from their association with government. They will fight for their privileged status. They will enforce greater and greater homogeneity upon the states. They will continue to fight for bigger and bigger budgets to pay for bigger and bigger benefits, determined in Washington and by Washington rather than out among the people. (Heaven forbid!)
Interestingly, many of the most riveting stories of the last several months provide a touch of foreshadowing about the conflicts to come.
For example, over the course of the shutdown, there have been several high-profile incidents of government bureaucrats using their power to take from the American people that which belongs to the people. We are referring specifically here to the National Park Service and its aggressiveness in denying the people of the country access to their parks. It all started with the now-infamous barricades at the World War II memorial intended to keep that war’s veterans from paying their respects to their comrades during the shutdown. Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be, that was only the beginning, as the inimitable Mark Steyn noted over the weekend:
[The National Park Service] could at least argue that these [war memorial]monuments were within their jurisdiction — although they shouldn’t be. Not content with that, the NPS shock troops then moved on to insisting that privately run sites such as the Claude Moore Colonial Farm and privately owned sites such as Mount Vernon were also required to shut. When the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway declined to comply with the government’s order to close (an entirely illegal order, by the way), the “shut down” Park Service sent armed agents and vehicles to blockade the hotel’s driveway.
Even then, the problem with a lot of America’s scenic wonders is that, although they sit on National Park Service land, they’re visible from some distance. So, in South Dakota, having closed Mount Rushmore the NPS storm troopers additionally attempted to close the view of Mount Rushmore — that’s to say a stretch of the highway, where the shoulder widens and you can pull over and admire the stony visages of America’s presidents.
But perhaps the most extraordinary story to emerge from the NPS is that of the tour group of foreign seniors whose bus was trapped in Yellowstone Park on the day the shutdown began. They were pulled over photographing a herd of bison when an armed ranger informed them, with the insouciant ad-hoc unilateral lawmaking to which the armed bureaucrat is distressingly prone, that taking photographs counts as illegal “recreation.” “Sir, you are recreating,” the ranger informed the tour guide. And we can’t have that, can we? They were ordered back to the Old Faithful Inn, next to the geyser of the same name, but forbidden to leave said inn to look at said geyser. Armed rangers were posted at the doors, and, just in case one of the wily Japanese or Aussies managed to outwit his captors by escaping through one of the inn’s air ducts and down to the geyser, a fleet of NPS SUVs showed up every hour and a half throughout the day, ten minutes before Old Faithful was due to blow, to surround the geyser and additionally ensure that any of America’s foreign visitors trying to photograph the impressive natural phenomenon from a second-floor hotel window would still wind up with a picture full of government officials. The following morning the bus made the two-and-a-half-hour journey to the park boundary but was prevented from using any of the bathrooms en route, including at a private dude ranch whose owner was threatened with the loss of his license if he allowed any tourist to use the facilities.
This is beyond bizarre, of course. But it’s hardly without precedent in the annals of the federal bureaucracy. Steyn argues that the “The NPS has spent the last two weeks behaving as the paramilitary wing of the DNC.” But why shouldn’t the Park Rangers behave thusly? Why shouldn’t they take the law into their own hands and dispense it in accordance the Democratic Party/ruling class prerogatives? After all, they watched the folks at the IRS do precisely the same thing without even a hint of consequences. Why shouldn’t they expect the same privileges? And really, except for a handful of unhappy Tea Partiers and their media friends, haven’t the Park police been right? Is anyone going to punish anybody for this? Is anyone going to lose his or her job? Will any of this change the way the government treats the people’s land? Don’t hold your breath.
Perhaps the more interesting and potentially more explosive confrontation will involve the technology that is, in large part, driving the de-centralization trend among this country’s young people. Consider how important technology is to most people. And consider as well how integral it has become in the lives of people under the age of, say, thirty. Now consider what we have learned over the last several months about the cooperation of technology companies with the federal government in “surveilling” the American people. All of the major companies – from Google to Verizon, from Microsoft to Facebook, from Yahoo to Apple – have collaborated with the National Security Agency in its various supervision operations.
Now consider what we know about the people who run those companies. As we argued last week, the leaders of those companies have a vested interest in the federal government’s ongoing success and EXPANSION. They are, almost to a man, denizens of the political Left, people who benefit personally as well as professionally from the triumph of government centralization.
Additionally, and more to the point, they’re rich and getting richer; powerful and getting more powerful. Take a look – if you can stand it – at the new Esquire magazine list of the top 50 “innovators,” in the country, the movers and shakers whom Esquire believes are the driving forces in American culture, the people whom the magazine fittingly enough labels “The New Establishment.” The top four spots go to Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com and, of course, the Washington Post; Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google; Tim Cook and Jonathan Ive of Apple; and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. The list of this “new establishment” is a veritable who’s who of the technology companies that not only benefit from government spending but also cooperate with the government in spying.
Just for fun – for you, specifically, gentle reader – Dan Doctoroff, the head of Bloomberg comes in at number 23. At the same time, Michael Bloomberg, the company’s namesake is featured on the cover of Time magazine this week, with a fawning interview about the soon-to-be-ex-mayor’s plans to change the country with his money. It is worth remembering here, we think, that while the Bloomberg folks didn’t exactly cooperate with the NSA in spying on you, they did, in fact, carry out their own little espionage operation on you – through the very terminals it sold you as indispensable to your business. How’s that for convenient?
What we are left with then is a very serious potential confrontation between the country class, which has become reliant on technology to enable its decentralization, and the proprietors of that technology, who have become reliant on government and centralization AND who have been complicit in providing said government with information about their users. It doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to worry that this won’t end well.
Of course not ending well seems to be the theme of the day. None of the confrontations detailed above is going to end well.
The establishment Republicans and their allies in the conservative press are demonstrably unhappy with the Tea Partiers because the Tea Partiers’ strategy – or lack thereof – is not going to end well, and the “insurgents” are either going to harm the government in some significant way or they’re going to harm the party in some significant way. None of this should surprise anyone, though. The Tea Party movement is notoriously unskilled politically. It has squandered several pick up opportunities, particularly in the Senate, over the last couple of election cycles. Additionally, its spokesmen, people like Ted Cruz, have a tendency to be abrasive on occasion. Will that damage the GOP “brand?” Of course it will. Will it cause the party to lose next year’s midterm election? Maybe, though we doubt it.
But even if it does hand victory to the Democrats, that won’t save Big Government. It too will end badly. The only question remaining is whether the GOP can remake itself in time to avert a major disaster or if its tactical and strategic struggles will keep it in the minority long enough to facilitate a complete collapse.
We can’t say which is more likely at this point, but we do see some reason for hope. Consider, as recently as last year and beginning two years ago, Congressman Paul Ryan was portrayed as a sinister and dastardly force in American politics, the man who would destroy the entitlement state and push grandma in her wheel chair over a cliff. Today, by contrast, he is considered a “moderate” and reasonable negotiating partner, the “adult” in the room.
This is a significant and important shift. It has been driven, of course, by the Tea Party and its relentlessness. And all those who think that the Tea Party is an ongoing disaster should keep this in mind.
In the meantime, if the last couple of weeks have shown us anything, it is that even as the radicals on the Right are driving everyone crazy and possibly costing their party popular support, Big Government’s central planning still can’t win the day. The social welfare, borrow-tax-and-spend model is simply unsustainable. The battle being watched all over the world right now is fascinating, but it is by no means the most important fight going on in Washington. Stay tuned, as they say.