I heard a story on Talk of the Nation today about the firing of federal prosecutors(Blog of the Nation post). The thing that caught my attention was that they were going to discuss how different the coverage on this story was “outside the beltway.” If anyone is unfamiliar with the term – “inside the beltway” is Washington D.C. (specifically the politicians) and “outside the beltway” is the rest of us. Unsurprisingly the conclusion was that this story was getting much less coverage from the rest of us. As I heard that I think I know why that is. I believe that most people outside the beltway hear about these kinds of stories and think “oh boy, another stupid move by a politician – why am I not surprised.”
I then wondered why this should be so newsworthy inside the beltway. Surely they are even more aware of the constant stream of questionable decisions by politicians. My best guess is that they find it newsworthy not because they are surprised by the news, but because they enjoy the circus they live in. They do not care about the latest poor decision so much as they care about how the whole political establishment will react and what the outcome will be. They just want to know whose job is on the line and who will benefit politically from the mess.
Perhaps I’m cynical, but if I’m right it’s no wonder nothing really serious can get done in Washington D.C. for the right reasons anymore.