In the 20 February edition of the Washington Post E.J. Dionne wrote "Republicans Run Out the Clock," an opinion piece which needs more attention.  Here's what he says about the sequester:

Here is the most important thing about the battle raging in the capital over $85 billion in automatic spending cuts: Republicans are losing the argument but winning the time war.

The more time we spend on pointless disputes about budget cuts no one is expected to make soon, the less we spend trying to solve the problems that confront us today — and, God forbid, thinking about the future.

The Republicans are masters at distracting the media and the national attention into pursuing things that should not matter - or, even if they do matter, which should matter a lot less than nearly everything else.  They have been directing the conversation during the last few years:

Benghazi!  Benghazi!  Sure, four Americans died but what about the thousands who die from gun violence every year?  And the attacks on consulates in the Bush era?  And the 4000+ Americans in Iraq?  And the 100,000+ Iraqis who died?

Death panels!  Although I loathe Sarah Palin, I concede her ability to turn or deliver a phrase that catches on.  That phrase did a lot to undermine the popularity of Obamacare and helped deliver the 2010 election to the Republicans.

Sandra Fluke is a slut!  I loathe Rush Limbaugh, and would never tune to him.  But even with his falling popularity, he's quoted many nights on MSNBC.  Maybe the MSNBC viewers yearn for this. Maybe it's just easier for them - and all resources are limited - to complain about Rush Limbaugh.  Perhaps it is even necessary, because some of the lies must be countered.

But we need to do more than play defense, because they're running out the clock.  We see this in many instances.  The delay of the confirmations, from Hagel down to many judges.  The delay of implementations.

E J Dionne concludes:

The return of Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles to Washington’s public stage this week was a reminder that we are trapped in the same old play with the same characters and the same themes.

On the merits, Obama has public opinion in his corner. His proposal to avoid the economic drag of the sequester with a reasonable amount of deficit reduction built on a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases through tax reform occupies the debate’s broad middle ground. If the GOP wanted, based on its past positions, it could take a deal of this sort and declare victory, given all the cuts that have already passed.

But that is not the victory the Republicans seek. The sequester game is a contest in which their side wins simply by running out the clock, no matter what the score is. Thus, Obama can’t just score points. He needs to figure out how to end this game so he can play the one he promised us when he said his reelection could “break the fever” in Washington. Alas, it has not broken yet.

Obama is aware of this, partly because this second term is his last term to serve as president, and so he is taking his case to the people - with gun control, with the sequester.  

We have to find a way to keep the Republicans from setting the agenda.  More powerful, more interesting distractions of our own?  

Suggestions if you have any.

Tired of politics?  Need to escape?  Try my Greek mythology based novels, either the story of Oedipus from the point of view of Jocasta, or a trilogy about Niobe, whose children were murdered by the gods - or were they?

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