What’s different this time, however, is the fervor with which some on the right are going after Mr. Simpson, in an attempt to pre-empt any proposal he might eventually make on the subject of the most critical issue facing our country: the national debt.
It reminds one a bit of the endless debates leading up to the Vietnam Paris peace talks about what shape the table ought to be. If Democrats cannot agree on a centrist like Bowles, and Republicans cannot agree on a consensus-seeker like Simpson, then, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the final chapter in the American experiment. William Butler Yeats, please call your office.
The third rail of Democratic politics is cutting spending. For Republicans, it’s raising taxes. I’ll let Democrats defend spending our grandchildren broke on entitlements. As for the Republican third rail, one or two thoughts, the first being that we ought, really, to cut it out and get real…
Apropos the attacks on him by the Rush Limbaughs and the conservative blogosphere, the folksy, good-humored Mr. Simpson told The Times, “Go ahead, keep babbling into the vapors. I’m not out to raise taxes but, for God’s sake, if these dizzy guys can’t figure out that this country…” The reporter noted that here Mr. Simpson “trailed off.” Who wouldn’t? But he got back on the trail quickly enough, with the bracingly direct remark that “I don’t believe we ever had a war where we didn’t have a tax to finance the war.”