The facts of the crisis over the debt ceiling aren’t complicated. Republicans have, in effect, taken America hostage, threatening to undermine the economy and disrupt the essential business of government unless they get policy concessions they would never have been able to enact through legislation. And Democrats — who would have been justified in rejecting this extortion altogether — have, in fact, gone a long way toward meeting those Republican demands.
As I said, it’s not complicated. Yet many people in the news media apparently can’t bring themselves to acknowledge this simple reality. News reports portray the parties as equally intransigent; pundits fantasize about some kind of “centrist” uprising, as if the problem was too much partisanship on both sides.
The cult of balance has played an important role in bringing us to the edge of disaster. For when reporting on political disputes always implies that both sides are to blame, there is no penalty for extremism. Voters won’t punish you for outrageous behavior if all they ever hear is that both sides are at fault.
From “The Centrist Cop-Out”, posted in The New York Times, by Paul Krugman
A lot has changed about America in the past dozen or so years, but I think it’s still safe to say most Americans like to play fair. And the notion that both sides are to blame, or the notion the truth lies somewhere in the middle, appeals to our sense of fairness.
Unfortunately, that sense of fairness is no longer of much use in sorting out the facts. Today, most of the problem is being caused by one side, the Republicans, who have turned into extremists on nearly every issue under the sun. To portray both sides as equally responsible for the mess we’re in is unfair to those who are opposing the dominance of Republican Extremism.