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Paul Hayden

Slip-Slidin’ Away

August 1, 2011

Slip-slidin’ away, slip-slidin’ away-ay

You know the nearer your destination the more you’re slip-slidin’ away.

…We work our jobs
Collect our pay
Believe we're gliding down the highway
When in fact we're slip slidin' away.

- “Slip-Slidin’ Away” Lyrics by Paul Simon

This depressing song penned by Paul Simon in the late 1970’s should be dusted off for today’s Republicans. Seems like every time in this agonizing debt-ceiling battle that the Republicans may be turning a corner and sticking to their guns, something happens to make them slip back a few steps.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve gone beyond tired of the Republican gang who can’t shoot straight, and of so-called conservatives who say one thing and then do another.  In response to the Democrats’ and their media minions’ halleluiah chorus about balanced plans, shared sacrifice, ad nauseam, there were really only two rational approaches the Republicans could have taken:

   1. Pass the Cut, Cap & Balance bill (which the House to its credit did) and then stick to and defend this plan to the hilt—and hit the other side back on every attack about taxes by making the argument about excessive spending. No other plans should have been proposed—period.
   2. Take the tax argument off the table at the outset of this disastrous debate by actually agreeing to some of it—but pointing out every step of the way how it’s like feeding a starving ocean with a medicine-dropper.

In fact, the Republicans have done neither—and in their dithering edge toward ultimate compromise and multiple plans that will probably go nowhere, they have allowed the Dems and their media cronies to tighten the vise with ever-increasing pressure to capitulate. In other words, the Republicans once again have surrendered the narrative to the Dems and allowed them to take the high ground even as the liberals name-call more than ever (“craven villains, economic terrorists,” etc.). This pathetic state of affairs is where we are in America today.

Speaker John Boehner is a classic case of a Republican who uses common-sense rhetoric, as he did last week in his counter-speech to Obama’s, and then does not follow through with common-sense action. This is how the Republicans in general have operated for decades, and, until they are willing and courageous enough to tell the media where to stick it when they get unfairly blamed, misinterpreted, etc., it will continue in this sorry vein.

So we are now reduced to a pitiful Boehner-sponsored plan that does almost nothing to reduce the government’s massive outlays, either now or in the future, and also does nothing to prevent the inevitable tax increases the Dems so crave. This makes us almost long for the former $4 trillion reduction plans that seem like ancient history now.  Even $4 trillion over 10 years is little progress compared to $1 trillion-plus deficits as far as the eye can see, but compared to what may end up being passed now, it’s starting to look mighty good.

Paul Simon’s late-70’s song was prescient. Today, too many people are gliding down life’s highway thinking that although we may not be going in the right direction, the gravy train we’ve been living on for decades is just going to keep on chugging. When in fact, this economy and life as we have known it are slip-slidin’ away, and the crash when (not if) it comes may just be so sudden and devastating that the cute modern adage “Didn’t see that one coming” will take on a whole new meaning.

Thanks, Republicans, for allowing yourselves to get out-maneuvered, out-argued, and villianized yet again. If the Dems are Lucy, and the media is the football, then surely you guys are Charlie Brown. Like him, you never learn. Unfortunately, this is a very high-stakes game that you’re losing—for all of us.

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