1. The assumption that there is truth and legitimacy to both sides of every dispute.
2. The iron law in political journalism that one side in a debate can never be exclusively right, or have a monopoly on the facts.
This increasingly disorderly fight over raising the debt ceiling has not only exposed the petty dysfunctions of the US Congress, it has also revealed a core failure of American political journalism. The press has made the debt fight the top story for the last two weeks —even accounting for half of all stories on radio and cable news—but much of the coverage has failed to tell the very basics of what is happening.
I don’t mean how this deficit was created (by tax cuts, Medicare and recessions ), or why the debt ceiling gets raised (in response to past decisions by Congress). That stuff matters, but at bottom, this is a story about politics, not the bond market.
This fight started with a partisan threat to sabotoge the economy in order to extract policy concessions, but then, when Democrats offered most of the concessions, it ricocheted and morphed into something else: a high-stakes lightning round of intramural GOP posturing. Right now, we are living through a Republican primary for economic policy. The results may hurt the nation—an externality that Republicans have widely acknowledged, lending bite to their bark—and no one seems to know what you do with an army that wants to keep fighting after there’s no land left to conquer.