The question I have in the debt limit crisis – which, removing the passionate politics from the equation, you have to admit was an incredible large-scale psychological study, sure to spur armchair analysis for years to come – is the extent to which the president campaigned for a cause other than compromise.

From my, admittedly left-of-center vantage, the compromise was more important than the subject matter at hand. I had previously characterized Obama as the character you see in many war/sports movies – the one who tells the troops not to fire too soon, to wait for it, wait for it, waaaiiittt ffffoooorrrr iiiittttt….NOW!

Now I find myself with a different war move characterization…that of Colonel Nicholson, the commanding British officer played by Alec Guinness in “Bridge on the River Kwai“. Nicholson so set his sights on a goal – building a proper bridge  – that he became completely divorced from the larger conflict, arguably becoming far too accommodating to his enemy. I can’t say that I know how that possibility – subsuming yourself to a different goal, losing yourself in a different reality from everyone else around you –  will eventually lead. Neither could the authors, as the ending for Nicholson was quite different in Boulle’s book than it was in Lean’s movie.

But overall, my impression of events matches those of Major Clipton, who had the last word in Kwai:

Madness. Madness!


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