Despite the enthusiasm that ushered in a new president, the hoped-for change has been slow to develop, frustrating supporters; and detractors have gleefully unleashed a torrent of invective that has come to define not just ‘the other side’ but ‘the dark side’ of our national ethos . Political opportunists have seized the moment to stake out positions that invoke the passions of voters who parrot the low-tax, small-government mantra of media pundits and congressional surrogates.

At the gates of hell in Dante’s Inferno, a sign warned “abandon hope all ye who enter here.” As debates wear on in Congress over health care and any vaguely progressive issue, such a notice should hang over the door of the Capitol building to alert any optimists who venture in that their hopes are about to be dashed. It isn’t just that the marketplace of ideas seems to be located elsewhere but that discussions about legislation and programs are so tainted by vitriol and deliberate misrepresentations that issues are rendered all but insoluble. In fact, the minority has made clear their intention to obstruct the entire administration agenda.