In "Fool," his absurdist Shakespearean knock-off, Christopher Moore begins with a who's who: there are Lear and Cornwall, Kent and Regan, Goneril and the Witches Three. And a ghost. As Moore puts it, "there's always a bloody ghost.
There is always, it seems, a ghost: a ghost who hovers, spooks, warns, and wraps its spectral arms around the unfolding action, foiling the players' plans and driving the story straight toward a cliff.
In America, that ghost is the deficit. Or if you prefer to think big and long-term, the national debt. We've long since crossed the line between millions and billions and trillions, with an annual deficit well over a trillion dollars and the accumulated debt nearly $12 trillion. Where is it that this particular ghost--no cartoon--is driving us?
Donald Rumsfeld, defending his Iraq War decisions, argued that one goes to war with the army one has, not the army one might wish for, and there is considerable doubt whether we can now come up with the cash to build the army he would have liked. Up-front costs of proposed health care legislation cause conservatives - and not only conservatives - to gag. With mounting needs for infrastructure repair, wars that go on and on, and an out-of-control Wall Street sucking up billions of taxpayers' dollars (hey, somebody has to pay for the bonuses), the current national deficit disorder is not a deficit of attention but a heightened attentiveness to a financial shortfall that constrains current capacity and paints a Shakespearean gloom over the future.