Not too long ago, John McCain was one of the most admired people in Washington. He was held in esteem by both Republicans and Democrats. His legion of admirers in the press painted a picture of a heroic figure working to clean up the political system, fighting against overwhelming odds, pushed on by courage and principle. But there was always another side to McCain. On a personal level, he was actually an enormous jerk, who could be petty, rude, and even cruel to those who got in his way (not for nothing was he once known as "Senator Hothead"). He didn't really care much about policy. He was always more concerned with personal ambition and preening for the cameras than accomplishing anything.
In the 1997 sci-fi film "The Fifth Element," Earth is being approached by some menacing blob of evil, and the planet's military (brief digression: Have you ever noticed how sci-fi writers all seem to believe our future involves one world government?) decides, naturally, to fire some missiles at it. The blob not only absorbs the missiles but gets bigger, as though the puny earthlings' attempts to kill it have only made it stronger.
Imagine a basketball game in which each side had a phone-book-sized rule book, and every once in a while a player on the bench would pick up his head from the book and say, "Wait! It says here on page 845 that if four of our players hold their breath and hum 'It's a Small World After All,' then you have to take the next free throw standing on one foot with your eyes closed!" That's kind of what legislating in the U.S. Congress is like. It's governed by a spectacularly complex set of rules, including some that most of the participants have barely heard of or understand.
Back in 1980, Ronald Reagan ran for president assuring people that he could balance the federal budget just by locating and purging all the "waste, fraud, and abuse" in federal spending. While there is certainly plenty of each, finding them never seems to have the magical effects everyone supposes. But it plays into the belief many Americans have that much of the budget is just unnecessary, and we could easily be rid of it.