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If committee can't work out debt crisis, we'll appoint a consultant

August 03, 2011|By TIM ROWLAND | timr@herald-mail.com

Finally, after an entire summer of holding knives to each others' throats, the president and members of the House and Senate got together this week and — amid much fanfare and relieved laughter — announced that there is really no such thing as a "debt ceiling."

Or at least that's kind of how it seems.

When you have a serious, immediate crisis such as this one, it takes some strong leadership to put off any decision for another three months.

And heavens, if your heroes are Mitch McConnell and Joe Biden, how serious could all this have been in the first place?

I have also never seen so many people at once clamoring for the microphone to tell everyone how badly they had failed.

We failed because the debt limit was raised. We failed because we didn't get any tax hikes. We failed because in the end Obama's head was not carried down Pennsylvania Avenue on a pike.

We failed because we didn't drive the tea party from just kind of marginally cute and cuddly crazy into full-blown jailhouse-rat crazy, to the point where they would start devouring their young.

A whole summer of mine they wasted, talking about the catastrophe we faced. And then when all was said and done, what do we get? Nothing but a committee.

I hate books that end this way — a great story, but the author has no idea how to wrap it up, so he punts.

A committee. The financial world as we know it is about to blow up, so our solution is to announce that we've done something, even when we haven't, and then push the whole mess several months into the future at which point, if the two sides cannot agree, we will eliminate the Department of Defense.

As long as it makes sense to them, I suppose.

And as fast as I usually run from the tea party, I was about this close to coming over to the dark side and rooting for a government default, if for no other reason than nothing interesting has happened around here lately.

And besides, we deserved it. What do you expect in a society where a vote in the ballot box is deemed less consequential than a "like" on Facebook?

When normal people surrender the polls to the bug-eyed extremists on both sides of the political spectrum who are up blogging at 2 a.m. and working themselves into conspiratorial froths, this is what you're gonna get.

And just how bad was it in Washington? It was so bad, that our own delegation to Annapolis unwrapped their hands from around each others throats long enough to register their dismay.

"A pox on both their houses," thundered Sen. Chris Shank, in criticizing the inability of both sides to compromise.

Um — oh, why even go there? But if the most hard-line, give-no-quarter, tea-partiest, yee-hawiest, back-bench bomb throwers in the Maryland legislature think that you need to compromise more? For once, words fail even a stinker like me.

Shank later clarified his remarks to say that it's all the Democrats' fault — but on the chance that a general public outrage over both parties' behavior might translate to votes down the road, Shank showed he isn't above stabbing his own party in the back for a second or two if it might benefit his own personal career.

At least, unlike at the federal level, we can no longer say he's inflexible.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant at www.herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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