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Bigger than Washington

The Cold Civil War has temporarily settled into a waiting game. The political combatants like two tired boxers, are punching without much energy, both sides cut and bloodied. All semblance of grace and beauty has gone out of the match. The struggle to control Washington is driven by sheer brutality now.

In one sense the institutions are already marred by collateral damage. The assault on the capital when it finally came did not take the genteel form of freshman candidates arriving with an idealistic agenda. Instead of Mr. Smith, Donald Trump came to Washington on the wings of chaos, a force that could take the media narrative and spit it back in a form even more toxic than its original form. As Roger Simon observed the establishment is beginning  to realize that they can retake the town only at the price of wrecking it. Perhaps they already have. War is hell and political war no exception.

The most subconsciously symbolic expression of Washington's crisis were leaked arrangements for Senator John McCain's possible funeral. The senator has a deadly form of brain cancer and NBC says that in the event of his death he wants old Washington, not the new one, to bury him. Former presidents Barack Obama and George Bush were asked to deliver the eulogies. The current president need not apply.

In a way the McCain plans resemble nothing so much as a modern Viking funeral, with the former naval aviator and son of legendary admirals preparing for his last voyage on a ship of fire. In that ancient rite "the pyre was constructed to make the pillar of smoke as massive as possible, in order to elevate the deceased to the afterlife." But where the Norse funeral was meant to memorialize the glory of a great warrior the mood in Washington appears more in anticipation of Ragnarok.

Lost in the gloom is the latent sense of renewal that all great disruptions -- including this one -- inherently contain.  As Stephen Moore wrote in the Hill, outside of political circles things are unaccountably upbeat.

Two stories appeared on the front page and above the fold in the New York Times over the ‎weekend. The first was about the seemingly never-ending Russia probe. The second was about the Labor Department reporting the lowest unemployment rate in nearly 20 years. Which of these two stories do you think American voters care more about?

Whatever's responsible for it something outside of old Washington is working.  Recently Warren Buffet explained why he was betting on a prosperous future.

With more than 360,000 workers in operations as vast as manufacturing, retail, insurance, financial services, railroads and energy, Berkshire subsidiaries produce the components, goods and services that help drive the engine of American commerce.

This gives Buffett a unique view on the health of the American economy, which he has said is growing more quickly than in the recent past. He recently told CNBC that business activity is "stronger than it's been. It's been improving year after year after the financial panic [of 2008]."

He has talked about the ways American ingenuity and resourcefulness have improved the lives of the middle class. Those improvements have given them options in education, medicine, travel and entertainment that weren't accessible but by the very rich only a couple of generations ago.