It was folly to grieve, or to think. The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the ‘Red Death.'” — Edgar Allan Poe
No one can do macabre like Edgar Allan Poe, but this 112thCongress is giving the American short-story master a run for his money.
The White House and the Senate, led by Harry Reid, are engaged in a modern-day version of “The Masque of the Red Death” in stubbornly ignoring the entitlement time-bomb that almost assuredly will spell economic ruin for the country when it goes off.
In Poe’s creation, 1,000 members of a land’s nobility, led by Prince Prospero, sequester themselves in a palace in an effort to shut out all thoughts and realities of “the Red Death,” a virulent plague ravaging their countrymen.
In President Barack Obama‘s and Reid’s “Masque of the Red Ink,” powerful Washington special interests are holed up in the hallways of Congress preaching willful ignorance of certain fiscal calamity so that they can keep the decades-long U.S. spending spree going.
The big difference between these two stories, of course, is that Poe’s is fiction. The one in Washington is real, and it will result in severe hardship for generations of Americans to come.
“Unconscionable” is an overused word in American politics, but it fits the deeds of those lobbying against entitlement reform in Washington — like the powerful AARP — as snugly today as one of Prince Prospero’s cloaks surely would have fit him. TheAARP is squeezing Senate Democrats day and night during the “fiscal cliff” talks to block any changes in Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, and it seems to be winning.
The rest of this column is at Newsday and Newsday Westchester. Thanks for reading.