Jonathan Bernstein defends himself. He insists that what he's saying is not that economically or fiscally that deficits don't matter - merely that politically, they don't. But that of course is exactly what Cheney and Rove were saying. Because deficits don't matter politically, there is no reason to tackle them. Now, I know Jonathan wasn't claiming we should ignore fiscal balance as a matter of principle - merely as a matter of political fact. But that's a core part of the problem. If our political elites only ever respond to short-term political interests, then the deficit will never be tackled. And it has almost never been tackled, except in the early 1990s, because of the heroic efforts of the first Bush and Clinton - against the gale-force wind of supply-side Republicanism.

What I get frustrated by is the use of such political realism/cynicism to mitigate against action. When Jonathan does it, he is merely presenting the facts of political science. When Rove and Cheney did it, they were engaging in the kind of deep cynicism that has helped destroy America's fiscal standing and economic future.

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