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The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president. -- Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Oct. 2010

LOOKING BACK, this had to happen. It all seems so obvious now.

As I write this, President Obama and Republicans in Congress continue to be deadlocked over the debt ceiling.
I don't know for sure what will happen if the debt ceiling isn't raised, nor does anyone else in the media. Nor do you.

Nor does anyone else, because it has never happened before. We're in brand-new territory: If the U.S. skips out on its bills, it would be for the first time in our 235 years of existence.

Future historians might look back on the subsequent downgrading of the once-sacrosanct U.S. Treasury Bill -- in a very literal sense the foundation of an empire -- as the final tipping point of the great American experiment.

Or they might not. We don't know. So why take a chance?

We've survived two wars with Great Britain, a savage Civil War, a simultaneous struggle with Hitler and imperial Japan, a 50-year standoff with the Soviet Union and its massive nuclear arsenal, decades of civil rights strife, and a horrific terrorist attack on New York City.

And the bitter end might all come down to a credit hit at the hands of the same financial services industry whose own debt we all bailed out not so long ago. Ironic.

In any case, I leave it up to you to find the sense in people who say the best way to be fiscally responsible is to renege on our obligations. Remember that advice the next time the same people lecture you about the need to pay your own bills and honor your own debts.

As for the debt ceiling fight itself, there's no mystery at all about that. The media repeats the convenient mantra "both sides are equally at fault" -- the better not to upset the advertisers, you see -- but here's one case where that's provably untrue.

Left to their own devices, Obama and his team would raise the debt ceiling in a heartbeat. They're Democrats; it's what they do.

But the Tea Party Caucus of the Republican Party -- the logical culmination of 30 or so years of talk radio and other propaganda insisting that Democrats aren't just an opposition party, but despicable traitors who are solely responsible for 100 percent of society's problems -- clearly had no intention of signing onto any deal of any kind with this president.

It makes perfect sense when you think about it. If your position is that the other guy is Evil Incarnate, why in the world would you want to make a deal with him?

More disturbing but still as perversely logical: If you live in a country that elected Evil Incarnate as president, why in the world would you care what happens to that country?

No, the Tea Party's kamikaze nihilism is perfectly understandable given their worldview. What's much more puzzling is how both parties, as well as the president, are focused so intensely on the deficit instead of what is by far the most urgent problem facing the American economy: Jobs.

We cannot only cut our way to health. We cannot only tax our way to health. The way ahead is to put America back to work again.

We have dug out of large deficits before. It can be done, but not overnight. The essential ingredient is people with jobs who can then, you know, pay taxes and buy stuff.

Let's face it: What small business owners need right now is not tax breaks and not the dismantling of social programs, but customers.

Go ahead, ask a few of ‘em which they would prefer right now. I'll wait right here!


Speaking of jobs (how's this for a bad segue?): We now bid a fond farewell to Patrick Rodgers, who served as our Community Editor for the past two years-plus. He leaves us to begin a job at the Ships of the Sea Museum, and we wish him the best.

In his relatively short time here, Patrick raised the bar for the reporting of local civic and political issues not only at this paper, but in all Savannah media.

In this issue you'll find his farewell column. We'll do our best to bring in someone to fill that position who shares Patrick's nose for news, his passion for digging into a story, and his grasp of local issues.