May 16th, 2012
10:16 PM ET

Letters to the President #1213: 'Show votes'

Reporter's Note: I write to President Obama all the time.

Dear Mr. President,

This charade up on Capitol Hill all day was truly exhausting. The way the Republicans trotted out one budget bill after another; waving charts, pointing fingers, raising their voices; then watching each one go down in flames was just silly. Your pal, Harry Reid was right to refer to it all as a bunch of “show votes.”

On the other hand, you have to admit: They could not have pulled that stunt if your party had produced and passed a budget.

I know that a lot of people get upset over “false equivalency;” the idea that both parties are to blame when sometimes circumstances suggest one party deserves more blame than the other on a certain issue. But I also think that argument can be used to avoid another, equally troublesome matter: Joint blame.

When it comes to the budget, I think there is ample evidence that neither side really wants to grapple with the hard decisions and compromises that we’re probably going to need to contain the deficit, whether now or later. Both sides are, I suspect, using the other’s opposition to protect them from taking real action on taxes, entitlements, spending, you name it.

Sure, in theory, each side hints that it wants to pursue a certain course…but in reality, I think they are betting that it will never happen. Kind of like a kid who is threatening to meet another guy for a fight after school, all the while absolutely counting on his friends to hold him back so the fight never happens.

Is there some false equivalency? Is one party more to blame than the other? Maybe. But I’m not sure which party. And I am sure of this: They both own part of the blame, despite all the “show votes” they can muster.


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