“Let’s be clear.” You hear it all the time, in Congress, from media pundits, corporate apologists and the president. But when all is said and done, things remain as muddled as ever. Attempts to clarify issues are awash in partisan rancor, and too often the goal seems simply to make political points. Republicans mostly just want to stop Obama, and many supporters like that their party stays on message and has made an art form of saying no.

There’s a kind of gleeful anticipation that in November the naysayers will seize power in Congress. But then what? How effective would they be in advancing the interests of ordinary Americans? Would government suddenly become so small it could be drowned in a bathtub as tax rebel Grover Norquist would have it – – a rather unpleasant choice of images it must be said no matter the intent. But then Norquist isn’t known for either his sense of humor or his kinder, gentler approach to handling the nation’s finances.