This started out as a reply to Mr Hengist's most righteous fisking of WaPo's Eugene Robinson, but it really started to look like a post unto itself. So here we are.
Robinson's blatherings are, alas all-too characteristic of the desperate delirium tremens which beset the Left as the rivets are systematically popped from the wings of their world-view ('Hey, nothing happened when we lost the first few! Guess we can ditch a few more...Wait, what's that wobble?...'):
The European Super-Nanny is making like the Black Knight from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" ("'Tis but a flesh wound!!"). All the Keynesian stimulus spending here at home is having pretty much the effect you'd expect from applying a defibrillator to a patient slipping into a diabetic coma. The Tea Parties are maddeningly/bafflingly failing to go away, lose elections, or start lobbying en masse for racial purity or putting Jesus on Mt Rushmore.
I almost feel sorry for them...between attacks of chortles and guffaws.
The dynamic has been the same for so long, that any change can only be seen by Leftists as pathology: The hard Left has dragged the Democratic party further and further to port, while a squishy-center-Right GOP has had rather a flaccid foot on the starboard rudder pedal. What force there has been in that countervailing direction has been so confoundedly conflated with Social Con issues that it's been unable to gather as much traction with a population which was not sufficiently attentive to the fiscal/federalist issues to see past the clouds of brimstone. And so the ship of state has swept in a leftward spiral so comprehensive as to be undetectable to the vast majority of folks who don't pay really close attention to such things. It's a situation eerily akin to that which resulted in the death of JFK, Jr, as his small plane swept in a long descending curve --utterly unnoticed by the seat of his pants and his untrained middle ear-- toward the choppy seas off Martha's Vineyard (link is to a really interesting article, with more levels of meaning and relevance than I'd expected to find for purposes of illuminating this small point. Worth your time).
That has now changed. With the Tea Parties, the small-government, fiscal-restraint message has risen to the top, at just the time when the public was paying attention (and yes, reciprocal causation is surely in effect here). It has outshone (though by no means obliterated) the SoCon channel, and assumed a position of a firm, energized counterforce to the sinister slippage that's dragged us so far off-true.We begin to see evidence of the emergence of that dialectic I've been prattling on about for so long. And it's about time!
Are there excesses of ideological purity on the Right? Of course. "Go ahead and default! Make my day!" is not a tenable position (if for no other reason that it puts the decision of what obligations will be met squarely in the hands of a POTUS who can hardly be trusted not to make those spending decisions such that they'll deliver the maximum hurt to people who will be inclined to blame the GOP). But how different is this from the cacophony of Progressive fantacism from the other side ("Hey, what we really need is a bigger stimulus...and a Single-Payer healthcare system...and Big Cuts to the military...and to sign onto the Kyoto Protocol..."). The trouble, it seems, has been that the zealots on the Left have had a seat at the table, while those on the Right were mainly yelling from the foyer. 2010 changed that, with the predictable result that things have gotten...well...unpredictable.
It's this latter point which seems to have been at the heart of S&P's decision to downgrade the US' creditworthiness from "Superdoubleplus Excellent" to "Merely Superb." Of course there's going to be unpredictability as the American political trajectory realigns itself. You can't alter the course of such an immense vessel and not expect a fair bit cavitation and wake turbulence. What S&P did was to issue a traffic advisory for the vicinity of that vessel, and one can hardly blame them for it....that is, unless one's entire narrative is predicated on the notion that there has been no bias, and so no need for a course correction (except maybe [further] to the Left). For such folks, these Tea Party Freshmen are the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, gremlins with crowbars, grinning on the wings, or whatever other metaphor makes you twitchy enough. Just a bunch of troublemaking hooligans, holding the stately State hostage for...somethingorother.
Yes, things are like to get a mite messy for a while, and investors (and voters!) should take note, and take precautions. But messy is what freedom is supposed to be. This is especially true during periods of transition, which we are surely in. It is the apparent direction of that transition which has Leftists (at least those who are paying attention) so nervous. And so they are bound to make the agents of that change into villains, and to try and tar the messengers who see the writing on the wall as mere graffiti artists. All in the hopes of planting the memes deeply enough to escape notice, that Left is Straight, Center is Right, and Right is Down.
But, to the great (and deliciously Schadenfreudig) consternation of Eugene Robinson and his like, more and more folks appear to be learning to fly by their instruments.