Here we are again, at the end of another interesting cycle in North American politics.
The first question is — who among you didn’t know the Americans would come up with a last minute, Hail Mary, long-bomb to avoid the U.S. going into default?
You knew they would — they had to. Nobody, not even the lowliest Tea Party idealogue, would have allowed the United States to default on its loans. It’s not just a question of throwing the world economy into chaos — in case you weren’t aware, the U.S. owes some big coin — it’s also a question of pride. The U.S.A. has always prided itself as the country all other nations look up to and wish to be. They came perilously close to losing that standing this week as those same Tea Party ideologues took the nation to the brink of financial ruin trying to stop a bill that was already law.
The Republicans, led by the far right of their party, thought Obama and the Democrats would blink. They truly did. And they had reason to believe they would. Obama has blinked plenty of times over the past six years in pursuit of that mythical concept known as bipartisanship. But he didn’t blink this time, perhaps sensing that for once public opinion really was on his side.
And for all their efforts, what has the Republican Party gained? A big fat nothing. Not one concession. Nada. They have managed to ruin the career of the Speaker John Boehner, who is unlikely to survive the fallout of this disastrous attempt to make a point. They have held up for the world to see the huge schism in the Republican Party, which is tearing itself apart from the far right.
To make matters worse, the whole debt ceiling question will come up again in a couple of months because the long bomb, Hail Mary pass to avoid default only kicks the problem down the road until January of 2014. Then another bill will have to deal with the budget question again.
So all that angst was for nothing.
Meanwhile, north of the border, the Canadian government, which prorogued Parliament for several months, returned to the House of Commons — or rather the Senate chamber where the Throne Speech was delivered Wednesday.
The speech itself was the usual offering of promises to all and sundry, but will it succeed in taking the mind of opposition parties off of the scandals of the summer past? Highly unlikely. Whether Prime Minister Harper intended the break from Parliament to change the channel from Senate spending scandals and other undesirable topics or not, it is unlikely the NDP or Liberal parties will allow those scandals to slip from memory.
With police investigations into the spending of such Senators as Pamela Wallin ongoing, the matter is not likely to go away. The NDP and Liberals would be foolish to let it go. And face it, a politician of any stripe or party, will be a pit-bull when he/she senses weakness in an opponent. There are too many unknowns — as in who knew what — around the Senate spending scandal for the NDP or Liberals to let it die.
Harper will have to face the questions in the House. Whether he chooses to answer them or not is up to him. But they will be asked.
So all that proroguing was for nothing.
It’s enough to make a person cynical about politics.
Carolyn Grant is Editor of the Kimberley Daily Bulletin