The Fiscal Cliff story has been a thriller, every bit as dramatic as those Cold War spy stories sadly nobody can get away with anymore. Stop me if you've heard this before: The players are polar opposites, circling each other nervously in a delicate balance of terror — and yet they must work (or at least live) together to save the world! Things are always coming down to the wire. The political angles are so numerous and acute you actually believe up is down and black is white.
If the stakes weren't so high (and the apparent outcome of what is now Phase I of this particular sage so unsatisfactory) it would be a great story. But we are so addicted to "great" stories — stories that have familiar touchstones — that sometimes the real story gets ignored. You know, the one that could have changed everything.
The Fiscal Cliff story was an unnecessary story — a sideshow. I don't think the media machine is ginning up the prospect of economic disasters just to sell newspapers in the grand tradition of Joseph Pulitzer, Rupert Murdoch and Charles Foster Kane. But I do think our eyes are on the wrong ball.
It's hardly the first time. Even in the last few months.