After months and more of doing what Congress does best – wait till the last minute to confront a crisis of its own creation – our dysfunctionally unproductive 112th Congress has arrived at last at the so-called “Fiscal Cliff.”
As Jonathan Cohn observed in The New Republic last Friday: “when the deal materializes still matters less than what the deal entails.” He’s right, of course, but our crisis-oriented approach to reporting on politics remains focused mainly on the deadline and the drama fo the last-minute deal. And it is indeed part of the pathology of our present-day politics that, since settling things rationally is no longer a value and is likely instead to result in a primary challenge, no one ever expects a settlement until the deadline is imminent - or has passed. Now that we are at that point, it looks as if some modest deal is going to be struck. But again it is the quality of the deal more than the timing that we should be caring about.