The president's job bill, introduced with great fanfare at a joint meeting session of Congress last month, went down to defeat with a resounding thud this past week. Much to no one's surprise.
Democrats say it's because the GOP opposed the bill for political reasons: they wanted the economy to remain in bad shape.
Republicans, in an opinion voiced by Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, said that "Democrats have designed this bill to fail - they've designed their own bill to fail - in the hope that anyone who votes against it will look bad."
Instead of leadership, we get what sounds like a playground spat.
So goes the spirit of compromise and concern for the greater good as the nation teeters on the precipice of an economic emergency.
Looking on are 14 million unemployed Americans who must feel as though they are engaged in a game of chess with Death. There's no way they can win.
It is no wonder that protests are erupting on all sides of the political spectrum while respect for our leaders has fallen to an alarming low.
Can President Obama or Mitt Romney or Herman Cain or Ron Paul stem the tide of anger in this country? Do they stand for real change? The skepticism is palpable.
And how have the grass-roots movements that have emerged recently approached this problem?
The tea party activists claim their members support reduced government spending, opposition to taxation in varying degrees, reduction of the national debt and federal budget deficit and adherence to an originalist interpretation of the United States Constitution.
All well and good, but it's hard to understand how this philosophy will undo the real problem facing the country: The corrupting influence of money in our political process in which our elected representatives are beholden to big-time donors and influence-peddling lobbyists.
This isn't checks and balances. It's gridlock. Don't expect common sense and compromise when both parties are errand boys for special interests.
And don't ask the tea party. They remain silent on the issue.
The message of the Occupy Wall Street protesters gets lost in the gaggle of causes that dot the movement: everything from the jobless and the truly concerned about that to anti-war activists, anarchists and Marxists.
But one point worth noting, as articulated by blogger Glenn Grenwald: "Does anyone really not know what the basic message is of this protest: that Wall Street is oozing corruption and criminality and its unrestrained political power - in the form of crony capitalism and ownership of political institutions - is destroying financial security for everyone else?"
If the Occupy Wall Street forces accomplish nothing else, they have struck a chord that resonates with the American public.
Public animosity toward the country's major financial institutions is on par with the deep negativity aimed at Washington, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Public distrust of the federal government is growing, and well documented. In the new poll, more than two-thirds of Americans say they view Washington unfavorably, including nearly half who hold "strongly" unfavorable impressions, the poll said.
But there's just as much negativity directed at Wall Street financial institutions. Fully 70 percent of those polled view such firms unfavorably, with strongly unfavorable mentions outnumbering strongly favorable ones by 8 to 1.
So much for the view that the Wall Street protesters are a bunch of unkempt hippies looking for a handout. Or "law-breaking troublemakers," in the words of tea party activists, who apparently forgot their organization was named after an incident that had its fair share of property destruction and civil disobedience.
Where will this all end? I remember watching anti-Vietnam war demonstrations in the early '60s that consisted of a couple of dozen placard-waving students. It seemed sincere but innocent.
That movement soon grew to one that by 1967 attracted 100,000 protesters at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and was responsible for the most divisive political drama of the late 20th century.
The Occupy Wall Street movement is as real and potentially game-changing as the anti-war activism of the '60s and '70s.
History could repeat itself if our elected representatives don't understand that their political gamesmanship and allegiance to those who have the financial means to buy it must end.