On board the ms Noordam, at port in Venice
"Now, what news on the Rialto?" you ask those of us enjoying THE WEEKLY STANDARD Mediterranean cruise (echoing Solanio in Act 3, Scene 1, of the Merchant of Venice).
The answer: Not much news, but lots of fun. The cruise is now about half over, having started in Rome and stopped in Corfu, Kotor, and Dubrovnic, before the last day and a half in Venice. The panels on ship while at sea have, I think, been lively and interesting. But I'll be the first to acknowledge it's tough to compete with the walled cities, colorful canals, and old churches and synagogues we've seen on shore. Whether on sea or land, though, it's been pretty easy to tune out the news from Washington, D.C., where Republicans seem to be in some disarray and the media is chortling about an anticipated victory for President Obama in the government shutdown/debt limit showdown.
For what it 's worth, I don't believe it. First of all, there's plenty of time for comebacks and fumbles and changes of momentum over the next few days. But even if the president does win a short-term victory this week, I suspect its effects will dissipate quickly. It's the real news of the week—the catastrophic launch of the Obamacare exchanges, the coming cave in the nuclear negotiations with Iran, and the governmental arrogance demonstrated during the shutdown—that will have long-term implications. Democrats can try to win in 2014 and 2016 by looking backward at this month's showdown. But voters are likely to care a lot more about the stories that will continue to effect them—the burdens of Obamacare and more broadly of the welfare state, the effects of liberal weakness abroad, and big government's arrogance and disdain for the American people. These snapshots from this week will have greater resonance because they pose questions and have implications for the future. It will be up to conservatives to continue to pose those questions and draw out those implications. If they succeed in doing so, the lasting lessons of October 2013, once the temporary Sturm und Drang of the shutdown and debt limit have passed, will benefit conservatives and Republicans.
And now, up to the top deck to say, Arrivederci Venezia!