Dan Gardner, while lauding our Paul Wells, on the current state of affairs in Ottawa.
For as long as I’ve been a journalist, I’ve bemoaned my colleagues’ obsession with politics — and I’ve consoled myself by saying “at least it’s better than in the US.” But no longer.
The eager wonks descending on Washington to deal with the dire economy and hundred other pressing problems have inspired American reporters to look at the actual substance of democratic governance. You know, public policy. Laws. Regulations. Taxes. The things that actually make a difference to people who work, raise kids, and generally have neither the time nor the inclination to pay attention to the ephemeral minutiae — read “bullshit” — of who’s hot and who’s not.
The opposite trend is evident in this country. Ever since the deficit was beaten in the late 1990s, the political class — politicians, journalists who write about politicians, and the people who read what journalists write about politicians — has become steadily less serious about public policy. We are now at what I hope is the nadir of this trend, with a government that suboridinates all policy to politics and a media that subordinates all reporting to the hissing and scheming in the halls of Ottawa’s gothic high school.
Compare and contrast that with Joe Klein’s latest dispatch from Washington.