Thanks for Nothing

A bipartisan deal used to mark the end of dysfunction. Now it's just the beginning

Illustration by Matt Dorfman for TIME

In the weeks before the debt-ceiling debacle was resolved, Barack Obama took a cultural wander through the recent history of U.S. political dysfunction. He started reading Rick Perlstein's powerful book Nixonland, whose thesis and subtitle, The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America, suggest the beginnings of the current political chasm. The President also watched the brilliant 1976 film Network, which predicted our current TV-news carnival. For Obama, these two works are history: he was a child in the '60s, just barely a teenager when Network debuted. For me, they're memory lane. And I can tell you that American...

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