Keller @ Large: 2014 A Better Year For Fumbling Civic Institutions?

By Jon Keller, WBZ Political Analyst

BOSTON (CBS) — For my money, the most significant national news story of 2013 is really an old story: the failure of our civic institutions – including the branches of government and the press – to provide true leadership or even function competently at key moments.

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I’ve said plenty about the Obamacare rollout fiasco in recent weeks, and there’s little to add for now. We will know by next summer if the ineptitude and overreach we’re seen so far was just the warmup to a collapse of a system with seemingly far too much reliance on bureaucracy and theory and far too little understanding of human nature.

Republicans gorging on I-told-you-so calories shouldn’t be so smug.

The government shutdown in October was an exercise in just what they accuse the Democrats of, self-indulgent ideological posturing with little regard for the damage it might do. It usually takes two to make a dysfunctional relationship, and the Republicans in Congress deserve plenty of blame for offering no real alternative to Democratic mismanagement.

The permanent government bureaucracy justifies itself with the claim that you need career civil servants to act as a check on the political excesses of partisans in power. That argument is in shambles after the Internal Revenue Service scandal, a gross violation of the most basic standards of fairness and due process.

Down in Florida, the judicial system proved incapable of providing justice for either George Zimmerman, a victim of overcharging and his own stupidity, or Trayvon Martin, a victim of Zimmerman’s profiling and his fatal reaction to it. And the media’s performance was disgraceful, too, first ignoring the story, then distorting the facts and the fallout.

But never fear, all our fumbling civic institutions can and will do a better job of it in 2014 – won’t they?

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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