This point of Matt Miller's is quite peculiar:
"I like a look of agony, because I know it's true," wrote Emily Dickinson. It may not be agony citizens are looking for, but common sense tells them that the ratio of fact to flimflam has reached depressing lows. It may take a jolt to the system more powerful than the one Viagra delivers to rouse us from the torpor of charades-as-usual. Then again, now that Deep Throat has been unveiled, maybe anything is possible.
Indeed. And Matt's suggestion is that both parties explain that the country is headed for wreckage and we need higher taxes. All well and good, except Matt was stateside in 2004, right? I mean, I'm almost sure he was. And voters didn't seem particularly unnerved by the flimflam of the guy they elected. In fact, all this flimflam is really for the voter's benefit. We've got a country that likes to be conservative in theory -- low taxes! small government! self-reliance! -- but liberal in policy. That makes for a Congress willing to simultaneously cut taxes and raise spending. But they're not hoodwinking the American people, they're just carrying out the populace's orders. That's why, by the way, 1994 saw the duel spectacle of Clinton's comprehensive health care plan being flushed down the toilet and Newt Gingrich's proposed Medicare cuts slicing his revolution to shreds.
This is a pundit's fallacy, the belief that what makes sense to you makes sense to others, if only someone could make them listen. The American people are well represented by a Congress that makes paradoxical policy decisions because the voters happen to have violently opposed policy preferences. It's not necessarily a pretty picture, but there it is. For Miller to pretend that this is the fault of dishonest parties is really a bit of a cop-out, this is the fault of the electorate, and any politicians who decide to correct the country's mistakes are not going to find the job security they seek. You can ask Presidents Tsongas and Mondale exactly how much Americans like the look of agony. It may be an honest visage, but a scary truth is far more terrifying than a pleasant lie.