This happens every year when you are trying to put up a Christmas tree.
You are sitting there holding the tree, and you are pretty sure that the tree is too far to the left by now, but it is getting harder to hold and it is damaging the ceiling, and you have to just stop at some point so the whole thing won’t fall over. “This seems good,” you say. “Let’s leave it here before we wreck the living room.” You begin screwing in the pegs in the tree stand.
Then the Supervisor comes in. Every family has one.
"That tree is way too far to the left," he says. "It's awful. I disapprove of the tree. You should have put the tree somewhere else entirely. That tree puts defense cuts and tax hikes on the table."
"Then you hold the dang tree and see what you come up with," you mutter. Your arm feels as though it is about to fall off.
"If I were holding the tree," says the Supervisor, or rather, "Were I holding the tree,” (that is the sort of grammatical formulation these people use) “the tree would be perfect. It would be aligned correctly against the wall, and it would blossom year round, and angels would hum around it, singing the sweetest songs of all our ancestors, and Cut, Ca, and Balance would be able to pass the Senate."
This annual incident springs to mind because Mitt Romney today issued a statement opposing the debt deal. He joins the ranks of other potential Republican presidential nominees — including Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty, who went on the record against an earlier version of the deal — in opposing it.
I understand conceptually that a good place for Republican presidential candidates right now to be is Against The Debt Deal. This makes conceptual sense. President Obama is going to be For The Debt Deal, and they will be Against It, and it will add a charming symmetry to the discussion come next November.
I believe it was the economist J. K. Galbraith who said, “Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.” If you’re on the sidelines, why pick either?
“While I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation President Obama’s lack of leadership has placed Republican members of Congress in, I personally cannot support this deal,” Romney said in a statement Monday. He also noted that “President Obama’s leadership failure has pushed the economy to the brink at the 11th hour and 59th minute.”
Still, at the 11th hour and 59th minute, as Romney says, it seems somewhat Panglossian to suggest that the plan in place is unsupportable.
Does he have any better ideas?
I have lots of Better Ideas, Romney says. “As president, my plan would have produced a budget that was cut, capped and balanced — not one that opens the door to higher taxes and puts defense cuts on the table.” No doubt.
In the Best of All Possible Worlds, which I hear is due any time we elect anyone else, most things are true. America gets back to business. Prosperity comes raining down like manna from heaven; sheep with soft, red wool wander the avenues; everyone agrees that Your Plan, President Romney, Is The Best and Most Sensible Plan; and those thoughtless people who have been running around with the goal posts move the goal posts back where they belong.
Perhaps that’s true. Certainly the deal isn’t perfect. But it does have one thing going for it — it exists, right now, in this Not Quite Best Of All Possible Worlds, where our arms are getting stiff from holding the tree in this unnatural position.
”I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation,” Romney says.
Easy to say, when you aren’t holding the tree.