Will Congress Show True Leadership and Grit?
Byline: Armstrong Williams, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
It has been several weeks since lawmakers took this country to the precipice of financial ruin, seemingly reveled in their fleeting power to do so, and then gingerly backed us all away. I can't help but think they actually enjoyed the ride. Lord knows we watched every minute unfold in excruciating detail. And at every turn, lawmakers were not laboring in sweats, up at all hours of the night. No, they golfed with one another, sauntered over to the West Wing and sat around while press pools took pictures.
In classic congressional gamesmanship, they kicked the can down the road. Sure, tough decisions were made, but not the toughest. Not the ones that would set us on a path out of default. They agreed to come back in a few months and finish the hard work.
As lawmakers howled, Wall Street piled on and investors fled. Congress won all right; it just ran this country deeper into a ditch.
That's the wrong way to win, America. Even worse, the way the debt limit deal was struck promises only more acrimony and bitter partisanship in the weeks and months to come.
Great crises historically have produced times of political detente in Washington. The Social Security crisis of the early 1980s. The deep recessions and subsequent Kemp-Roth reforms of 1981. The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Those are but three examples of when both parties came together to enact some difficult but landmark policies. In the wake of those tough fights where both sides gave a little, there was an era of comity. Oh, it didn't last for long, but it was there. It was a time when legislators were reminded of why they came to Washington in the first place. They reflected on their great stations in history and how the threads of their own stories would weave into the fabric and future of this nation.
Fast forward to 2011. None of that is occurring. The president signs the debt bill with little fanfare, passing over an opportunity to reassure markets and the American people. …