The spectre of political nihilism raises its head

Expanding on an comment of mine earlier today…

Viewing the brinkmanship going on in Washington reminds me of this strictly apocryphal tale that I recall hearing years ago.

  • When once asked if he feared a nuclear war, a Soviet offical responded no.
    • But, the questioner continued, a full-scale nuclear war between the U.S. and the USSR will leave both nations totally devasted, the cities in ruin, and hundred of millions dead.
    • Ah yes, the Soviet official replied, but we will control the rubble.

I suspect that there are those in Congress and elswhere who take the same view, that they’d engineeer a crash because they believe that they would prevail in the elections and be able to direct the rebuilding.

This attitude is nihilism, which I distinguish from good-faith opposition to what is viewed as a seriously flawed plan.

Which leads two questions:

1) Are there enough hard-liners to block a bill (coupled with an unwillingness or cowardice on the part of the majority to proceed anyway)?

2) Will the result of no bill be worse than allowing the current proposal through?

If the first proves to be correct, then we may get our answer to the second question.

It’s still to early to sort out between brinkmanship/negotiating versus nihilism. But the attacks on McCain (and the utter exoneration of Obama) in press commentary to date suggest that nihilistic calculations are going on in more quarters than we would like to think.

Given the lack of reliable reports, I will not make firm accusations, but I feel safe in asserting that there partisans on both sides of the political divide who have the opportunity, the motive, and the means to bring everything down – and who are acting from nihilistic motives.

We shall have to wait and see…

(cross-posted at And Rightly So!)

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