Friday 19 January 2018

With debt comet about to hit, this is no time for a pacifist president

If the debt crisis is not solved in Congress, the US President must deploy the nuclear option: the 14th amendment, writes Matthew Norman

Anyone with a healthy appetite for transient terror loves a disaster movie, but being trapped in the reality version appears to be less fun than it is at the flicks. Gazing across the Atlantic as the US debt crisis countdown clock clicks remorselessly toward Doomsday on August 2, ghoulish fascination mingles with mounting panic, I find myself thinking about the first black president of the United States.

I refer not to Barack Obama, of course, but to Morgan Freeman's Tom Beck in 'Deep Impact'. That 1998 disaster movie seems a handy reference point for the crazy melodrama in Washington, where at the time of writing ever more frantic congressional wrangling is no closer to producing even a short-term postponement of the coming apocalypse.

The plot concerns a comet hurtling toward the Atlantic seaboard with every intention of doing for humanity what a predecessor did for the dinosaurs. The problem for Beck, in facing this "extinction-level event", is that even the most bipartisan of presidents cannot reason with a comet.

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