On April 15th, 1912, the RMS Titanic, on her maiden voyage, the greatest and most beautiful of the White Star class trans-Atlantic passenger ships, improbably shuttered briefly, in the late evening hours, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. As alien and unsettling the shutter was, it was only briefly present and quickly was gone, and the ship went smoothly on her way to New York. The restored peace was false and illusory, as the fatal blow had already been delivered below the water line of the “unsinkable” three football field long craft, an iceberg buckling the hull plates past three bulkheads, and icy Atlantic water rushing in. Within three short hours, the ship that had been considered universally from an engineering standpoint virtually “unsinkable”, had drawn an unbearable amout of water within its structure, heaving and splitting the ship, and sending her to the bottom. The unthinkable had happened, and in a shorter time than any discerning person though conceivable, with the loss of more than 1500 people. The RMS Titanic, designed to be the perfect ocean ship, proved to be only too flawed and wholly unprepared for the reality of impacting an iceberg.
On August 2nd, 2011, an iceberg awaits the titanic ship of state known as the United States economy. On that day, the momentum of decades of deficit spending acclerated to an intolerable rate in the last few years, will impact against the immovable object of a debt ceiling beyond which the full faith and credit of the United States will be called into question if the impact is not avoided. As surely as the mass of water finding and expanding weaknesses in Titanic’s hull, a default in the debt will weaken and crumple the solid foundations of an economy built on trust, credit, and investment and shake the country to its very foundations. As on that terrible starry night in the middle of the Atlantic, the end will come sooner than any would have expected and the window of opportunity to make life saving corrections short indeed.
The President and Speaker of the House have spent the past week in opposing roles. The Speaker has been like the iceberg watchman, warning of the floating risks awaiting the ship of state and fashioning aggressive tactics to avoid the unsettling potential doom. The President has been like the Captain of the proud ship, imperious, arrogant, convinced his place in history to drive the ship ever faster into the night and achieve the soon to be achieved acclaim. The depressing part of this analogy is that this impending blow will occur in the light of day, premeditated, and in full view of all. Will no one stop the inevitable sinking of this once unsinkable economy and restore it to its stable foundations? If not, it won’t be the direct death of thousands, but rather the dagger in the heart of unfettered will, personal opportunity, and economic freedom.
If this President continues to drive the spend curve at the expense of fiscal sanity, if he continues to respond to the sinking ship with an insignificant simple re-arrangement of the deck chairs, he will have earned a ignominious title justly deserved – Worst. President. Ever.