A salute to a leader


Let me finish tonight with a salute to a leader.

It took someone to break this crazed stranglehold on America’s economy, someone to say that it’s time to release the hostage, time to move on.

Sen. Mitch McConnell came out yesterday and did it. He offered up a basic proposal: separate the fight we are having in this country over spending and taxation, a fight that will be settled in next year’s election, from the fight over whether we allow the debt ceiling to rise, a basic requirement of sound accounting.

When I worked in politics, I learned that political leaders in the Congress think from a somewhat different perspective than journalists. Journalists think of the day’s story.  It’s what the word means.  What do you write about that’s happening today? Political leaders think on two horizons - one is next week, the other is the next election. 

Sen. McConnell is thinking about what could happen if Congress doesn’t deal with the debt ceiling by the end of next week, what that failure will mean to the next election. No matter what the protesters say, this is right and it is true. Failure to act on the debt ceiling will create a horror for our country, a horror we’ve never seen before. 

Suddenly one day we will find ourselves like Greece or Ireland or Portugal, one of those countries at the “periphery” of the strong economies - Germany, China, India. 

Suddenly we will be one of those countries that the strong world looks at with disdain, looks down on really. We will have become objects of pity - pity not for what was done to us - like 9/11 - but for the pathetic sight of what we’ve done to ourselves.

So put me down with Sen. McConnell and Sen. Reid and the people President Obama trusts here, those who care most about the country, then about their parties, then about themselves. 

I “hope” that’s the order in which leaders make decisions. I “hope” that’s the way the people we’ve trusted to run our country approach their days, especially days like now, days of reckoning.             



A salute to a leader