Debt-Ceiling Debacle: What Would Aristotle Do?
Policy + Politics

Debt-Ceiling Debacle: What Would Aristotle Do?


After watching President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner trade jabs and blame over who’s at fault for the debt-ceiling debacle, it’s hard not to wonder what Aristotle would have recommended for our dysfunctional democracy.

No one will ever accuse me of being a historian but my fuzzy recollection is that the cradle of democracy in Athens didn’t rock all that smoothly. So between the fits and starts toward a government by some of the people, periodically a tyrant would emerge to get the process back on track and MAKE SOME DECISIONS.

I’m sure I’m not the only American sitting in front of the flat screen in a wife-beater and downing a beer in the summer inferno to conclude that the nation might be better off if we put all the members of Congress on the first Amtrak out of town –even if we have to strap them to their government-subsidized seats.

Send ‘em all back to whatever state they came from. Let those overeager House freshmen spend the rest of the summer ranting and chanting at Tea Party camps. Let those tired, no-ideas liberals drag through the dog days practicing how to tweet photos of their junk without becoming national jokes. And the Senate Millionaires Club can adjourn to their vacation enclaves to ponder and pontificate before an audience of maids and beach attendants who get paid to listen.

As for the White House schoolmaster, who has managed to scold one day and blow his storied cool the next, he should be shunted off to Hyannis or Martha’s Vineyard to loosen up with the Kennedys and learn the Tip O’Neill-Ronnie Reagan lesson that there are no problems that can’t be solved after a few cocktails.

But with all the muttonheads sent out to graze, who do we put in charge of righting the Republic? A bunch of names come to mind, even if most carry baggage of their own.

Rudy Giuliani
Upside: Anyone who walked the crack-vial scattered mean streets of New York before Rudy came along can tell you that behind the toothy, goofy smile is a man who tamed a city out of control.

Downside: He tends to overreach (at the end of his reign he was erecting pedestrian barriers on the avenues and talking about having miscreants scrape gum off the sidewalks). Plus he might be hard to dislodge when it’s time to bring back our elected Katzenjammer Kids.

Mike Bloomberg
Upside: Rudy’s successor doesn’t suffer fools--or the democratic process--lightly (he bought himself a third term just because he wanted one). But with his will of steel, Iron Mike would reassure business and the markets and in few months could accomplish more than two years of a fractious Congress and a too-many-balls-in-the-air President.

Downside: The billionaire choirboy has a hard time relating to Jane and Joe Six-Pack. And his Big Brother decrees about living healthy could spark a libertarian revolution.

Bill Clinton
Upside: The Old Dog knows every trick in Washington, is a brilliant political strategist, and in his latter years has become even more of a pragmatist than the one he evolved into while in office. Besides, how great would it be to have him back biting his lower lip and smooth-talking us into seeing things his way?

Downside: Given all the nomination nastiness of 2008, having “the first black President” clean up after the second black President might be too bitter a pill to make Barack swallow.

Hillary Clinton
Upside: For almost 20 years she has demonstrated to America that under her pantsuit is more intestinal fortitude than is contained by all the trousers in Washington. And now she knows how to kick butt and take names even more diplomatically.

Downside: Making her queen for a day would be a more-than-tacit admission that the Democrats made a mistake in picking the honey-voiced over the hard-nosed honey.

Andrew Cuomo
Upside: The hyper-ambitious governor of New York and son of the mystical former governor of New York has put the lie to the phrase “like father, like son.” Unlike Mario, Andrew moves like Lance Armstrong on steroids and gets things done.

Downside: His level of intensity may need to be dialed back a bit to succeed on a national stage.

Chris Christie
Upside: New Jersey’s governor is the biggest thing to hit Trenton in decades—an Everyman who backs up his bluster with real results. He’s conservative but not a wingnut. His straight talk would blast through the fog and daze of DC like a fire hose.

Downside: He doesn’t just step on toes—he crushes them. But that might not be a downside.

If you’ve got any better ideas, don’t hold back. America needs the right tyrant. Not forever. Maybe just until Halloween. Then we can bring back all those posturing characters we elected to take a second shot at trying to govern.