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Steve Otto Columns

Otto: Lots of ‘Breaking Bad’ on display in Washington

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Published:   |   Updated: October 2, 2013 at 11:05 PM

Is John Boehner Walter White?

For months, once a week, my youngest son has gathered with a group of his friends to watch the television series “Breaking Bad.’’

I watched a few episodes, only because he insisted the show was the greatest thing to ever hit the airwaves. I was a little cautious if only because he also gathers with his buddies to watch a series about zombies with almost the same enthusiasm.

But “Breaking Bad,’’ which concluded in an inevitable finale of carnage and over-analysis by critics, was pretty heady TV drama. I read reviews that suggest the series was not only the greatest TV drama ever but at least one critic compared it to a 21st century version of “Hamlet.’’

The series followed the life and death of protagonist Walter White as he devolved over the seasons, using as his mantra that he only wanted to protect his family while slipping into an ever darker world of drugs and crime.

Maybe I missed something, but then I’ve been caught up in the real world’s version of the series, we’ll call “Breaking Badly,’’ with a cast of close to 600 elected Republicans and Democrats, whose similar mantra has been that they only want to serve the American people, while at the same time grinding the very system they were elected to utilize to a halt.

What makes it a little creepy is that many of those politicians probably believe they are right. Taking it a step farther, they may indeed be listening to their constituents.

What has been fascinating in their process is that like “Breaking Bad,’’ you could see the inevitable carnage coming for months, even years. If you are even a little bit of a political junkie, you understand what it takes for politicians to survive in a Faustian system that demands complete loyalty in exchange for cash.

Is there anyone out there who had any real doubts that what happened at midnight Tuesday was going to happen? I mean really?

Even watching the politicians in the days leading up to the shutdown, running from microphone to microphone, all saying they had no intention of doing anything as asinine as shutting down just enough of the government to hurt those who could least afford it, only convinced us that here it comes.

I suppose all of this was inevitable after all.

Our society has changed in recent years.

The grand scheme of the American idea was that government would be balanced and that a key to that balance would be debate and compromise.

But we live in a culture that has forgotten what that means. It’s not just Congress; it is everywhere where the concepts of discussion, debate or even simple conversation have degenerated into one-sided arguments.

It seems to me we’ve forgotten how to listen; how to understand that everything is not black and white.

We’ll get by this one with the only damage happening to people who apparently don’t really count in the scheme of things.

Of course there is that debt ceiling deal that has to be worked out in a few weeks, but we’re getting used to jumping off of cliffs in our brave new world of Breaking Badly.

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