I ran into an Indian businessman friend last week and he said something to me that really struck a chord: “This is the first time I’ve ever visited the United States when I feel like you’re acting like an immature democracy.”
You know what he meant: We’re in a once-a-century financial crisis, and yet we’ve actually descended into politics worse than usual. There don’t seem to be any adults at the top ”” nobody acting larger than the moment, nobody being impelled by anything deeper than the last news cycle. Instead, Congress is slapping together punitive tax laws overnight like some Banana Republic, our president is getting in trouble cracking jokes on Jay Leno comparing his bowling skills to a Special Olympian, and the opposition party is behaving as if its only priority is to deflate President Obama’s popularity.
I saw Eric Cantor, a Republican House leader, on CNBC the other day, and the entire interview consisted of him trying to exploit the A.I.G. situation for partisan gain without one constructive thought. I just kept staring at him and thinking: “Do you not have kids? Do you not have a pension that you’re worried about? Do you live in some gated community where all the banks will be O.K., even if our biggest banks go under? Do you think your party automatically wins if the country loses? What are you thinking?”