Earlier I watched a truly great politician moment: "Gang of 14" Senators going to the Senate floor and congratulating themselves for working out an agreement to re-open the government and raise the debt limit. Not the agreement; the actual deal was apparently only tangentially related to the Gang's. But an agreement, nonetheless. They are immensely proud of having participated in a process which had little or nothing to do with ending a shutdown almost three weeks in, and raising the debt limit at the last minute.
There are basically two ways to take this.
One of them, and the one I try to be in favor of most of the time, is to just enjoy the spectacle of politicians being politicians. Of course they want to present themselves as full of spirit of bipartisanship, not to mention can-do efficacy. Of course they want to present themselves as part of the Good Washington. It's silly, but it's what politicians do, and we need politicians, so why complain?
The other one, when I'm in a less charitable mood...start with the Republicans. Some of them (John McCain, in particular, whatever his petty, personal motives; sorry, can't help that) have been pretty good about fighting back against the radicals. Others? Not so much. And while obviously the first blame for all of this has to go to the radicals, the truth by all accounts is that the radicals were dramatically outnumbered in both the House and Senate Republican conferences. And yet those sane Republicans too often hid their beliefs, voting to go along with most, if not all, of the craziness that they themselves said was doomed. Don't forget: these seven Gang-sters voted unanimously over the weekend, with the rest of the Republicans, to kill a clean debt limit bill by filibuster. Granted, what the Senate did wasn't very important in the grand scheme of things, but they could have provided a bit of cover House Republicans. They did not.
Then there are the Democrats. Maybe they deserve a break; one way of reading the entire thing (and Brian Beutler has been good on this) is as a process of producing tough votes for Democrats to take. Still: these moderate Democrats, by predictably clinging to whatever Republicans they can find in order to constantly prove their distance from Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and all, help to enable those sane Republicans to actually act as irresponsibly as Tail Gunner Ted and his group.
The true humor in all of this was that the Senators actually finishing up the deal and how it was going to be handled were off the Senate floor because they were busy working on it; the Gangsters were congratulating each other for working together to reach a deal precisely because they had time on their hands while the real work was going on.
At any rate, as I said, pretty much this is just what politicians do, and if you want to have a functioning democracy, you're going to need some politicians, and no question about it but that even the best of the workhorses will still take the opportunity when available to show off in the winner's circle.