Among the things for which Americans can, on this feast day, be thankful is Washington’s resolve to temper severity with mercy: It will seriously — this time we really mean business; we are not going to be Greece, or worse, Illinois— restrain spending but will not balance the budget on the backs of popcorn eaters. Growers of this essential snack may yet retain their subsidy, lest the price of a tub of the stuff at the movies soar by a nickel, even a dime. Can’t have that.
Or this: “I,” said Terry List, “would not recommend to my pupils to become a teacher in Michigan” because a proposed pension reform would delay her retirement past age 47. Under Michigan’s mandatory evaluation system, all the teachers in Hazel Park School District were given the top rating — “highly qualified” — yet the high school was given an “F” for student achievement.
Ignoring William James’s admonition that one should do an unpleasant duty every day just to stay in moral trim, millions of voters did not dutifully vote. In a burst of ennui, turnout declined for the first time in 16 years.
Who says that you cannot make a souffle rise twice? Barack Obama was reelected. Having spent four years making a sow’s ear out of the silk purse of public support with which he began his presidency, he won by essentially vowing for his new term what an NBA player promised his new team: “We’ll turn the program around 360 degrees.” Joe Biden called his boss’s decision to kill Osama bin Laden the most “audacious plan” in 500 years. Pick your counterexamples.