Just listen to the highly influential conservative commentator — and former defence hawk — Charles Krauthammer. A former speechwriter to Jimmy Carter’s vice-president Walter Mondale, Krauthammer quit the Democratic Party in the 1980s because he regarded it as cavalier about national defence. On Friday, Krauthammer published a column in the Washington Post urging Republicans to hang tough on the sequester.

What about defence? Krauthammer shrugged: That was the president’s problem, not the GOP’s: “As commander in chief, [Obama] must worry about indiscriminate Pentagon cuts that his own defence secretary calls catastrophic.”

This is no way to govern a great country. Actually, this is a mode of government by which a great country may rapidly cease to be a great country. A political elite obsessed with its own feuds and rivalries is ignoring genuine economic and security problems. Out of its own animosities and ignorance, it repeatedly has created utterly unnecessary crises that only aggravate America’s genuine problems.

Twice, the political elite averted the crisis at the last minute. Let’s hope they do the same this third time. And then the rest of America should ask: Isn’t it time to find leaders who see their job as making things better, not worse?