Column: Blame ’em all for shutdown

Here’s a good motto to guide you through normal American politics:

“Lord, give me coffee to change the things I can change, and give me wine to accept the things I can’t.”

After last week, I wouldn’t choose to live by this corrupted version of the serenity prayer. I’d end up a raging alcoholic.

The government of the most powerful nation in the world shut down for no good reason as Republicans and Democrats twerked themselves into a partisan frenzy. The spectacle served no useful purpose other than to demonstrate the vacuum in leadership that exists first and primarily with President Barack Obama and secondarily with figures such as Sens. Ted Cruz and Harry Reid.

Perhaps we have become an “ineptrocracy,” which is defined in the Urban Dictionary as “a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing.”

Let’s start with the GOP. What a mess. Yes, a good many Republicans were elected to slow, stop or cut federal spending. I get that. In fact, I support that. But adopting a strategy with no end-game resulted in needless confrontation. They’re trying to draw an inside straight but betting like they hold a full house. It makes no sense.

If this is what a Tea Party-guided government looks like, count me out. I’m not interested in bumper sticker retorts. I’m interested in better leadership and better government.

Then there’s Reid, the majority leader. Don’t get me started on Harry Reid. First, he talked President Obama out of negotiating with Republicans. Reid told Obama that if the president dared to talk with Republicans, he would not attend the meeting.

Reid then had a second chance to avert a shutdown, provided he’d agree to a one-year delay of the implementation of Obamacare and an end to the medical device tax. That deal would have been best for the country. But being the jackass he is, Reid gave it his standard partisan “nyet.” No leadership here. Move along.

Then there’s Obama, perhaps the worst president since, I don’t know, you pick one.

Jimmy Carter’s too easy. Franklin Pierce, maybe?

Obama is most responsible for Washington’s failures because he is the president. He is the leader.

Throughout his tenure, he has divided Americans by politics, skin color and bank account. Instead of being a leader who lifts us out of our partisanship — the kind of leader he promised to be during the 2008 campaign — Obama draws smaller and smaller circles around himself.

Our president negotiated with terrorists in Iran. He acquiesced to the Russians on Syria. And while our government spun closer to shutdown, Obama played golf like a Florida retiree — 17 rounds since July 4. Nothing against golf, but in that span of time, he did exactly nothing — nada — to bring together the saner political forces and find a solution.

That’s not leadership. That’s not even showing up.

And I’m not the only one to call out the president for this leadership failure. Bob Woodward of The Washington Post correctly points out that if something bad happens to the economy as a result of the shutdown, the fault will be placed “on the president’s head.”

“He’s got to lead,” Woodward says. “He’s got to talk. And the absence of discussion here, I think, is (a) baffling element.”

I wouldn’t call it “baffling.” I’d call it par for the course.

Just a couple of weeks ago, our president warned that a government shutdown could cause an economic collapse for America and the world. If he believed that, why didn’t he make an effort to prevent it? Why golf? Why not talk with Republicans, who are his fellow Americans? Instead, he opted to guarantee a shutdown.

So did the Republicans. And so did Harry Reid.

I blame ’em all.

Sherman Frederick, former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and member of the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame, writes a column for Stephens Media. Read his blog at

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