Niccolo Machiavelli, the 15th-century Italian philosopher and diplomat, is credited with saying this first, although cavemen probably had the same thoughts long before he did: “Never waste an opportunity offered by a good crisis.”

Someone who is “Machiavellian” today is thought to be sneaky, cunning and lacking a moral code. So, meet the Democrats in the House of Representatives who’d probably make Machiavelli their leader if he were still around.

Our country, you might have noticed, is in a crisis caused by a virus that started in China and has circled the world. And the one thing Americans want — as you can see by the cheer suddenly brought to the stock market yesterday — is money in the form of a bailout from Washington.

And America needs it in a hurry.

The Senate has already passed a $2 trillion bailout after an agreement with the White House. The House could have voted on the bill Wednesday but it didn’t. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House, might get around to it today. Or maybe not.

Sensing desperation in the country, Pelosi and her demanding minions — who just got finished impeaching President Trump — are still trying to junk up the bailout bill with stuff that is irrelevant to the current crisis.

Never miss an opportunity when a crisis occurs, the House Democrats would probably agree, although they aren’t supposed to say that out loud. But one did. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the Democrat who is the House whip, is reported by The Hill to have said in a call with colleagues that “this is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

What are the Democrats looking for? Reports are that they want stuff about abortion in the bailout bill. And about tuition forgiveness. And mail-in voting. And diverse corporate boardrooms. Lots of other things as well.

Not everything they want is misguided. But it is mistimed.

Of course, what the House really wants in the bailout bill is a provision that Donald Trump won’t be President for another four years. But Pelosi can’t have that because — well — we live in a democracy where that decision is left to the voters.

The US economy is in trouble. The Federal Reserve has done what it can and it’s not enough.

Now it’s up to the elected officials to step in. The Senate has done its job, although it could have moved faster. The White House stands ready to do what it has to do.

It’ll be seen on Thursday whether the House is still diddling around and whether Pelosi can place the needs of the country ahead of 15th century thinking about putting one over on the other political party. Dragging their feet would be political suicide for the Democrats, but people often do stupid things without thinking that they later regret.

So, let John Crudele be quoted forever as saying this to the Democrats: “Don’t miss this opportunity to fix things because you want to create a bigger crisis. Get off your butts and, at least for once, do the right thing.”

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