Friday, April 18, 2014

Premature Jocularity

Remember back in the 1980's when the NFL became the "No Fun League"?  Rules were adopted banning on-field celebrations like "The Sack Dance", "The Fun Bunch" and even the simple act of spiking the football.  I think it is time for a similar ban on "celebrating" an accomplishment for politicians.

The term "spiking the football" joined the political vernacular after President George W Bush's infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech on the aircraft carrier during the Iraq War.  As it turned out, we had not scored the game-winning touchdown--but rather we had just pushed the ball out of our own end zone to the one-yard line.

Governor Scott Walker has been a good "ball spiker" as well--celebrating a projected budget surplus by immediately spending nearly all of that with a quick package of tax cuts.  As I've mentioned before in this space, I prefer to have my money in my pocket before I think about how to spend it.  Plus, another downturn in the sputtering national economic recovery--and you are right back in the mess you worked so hard to fix.

And then you have President Obama, who is becoming the King of End Zone Celebrations with the Affordable Care Act.  You had the Rose Garden speech earlier this month touting the 7-million registrations at  But what we still don't know is how many of the registrants have actually enrolled in a health insurance plan?  And how many are going to keep up on the monthly premiums?  And will the increased claims allow insurers to keep premiums at the "affordable" level that was promised?  This isn't a touchdown--but just like Bush 41 found out--we are just getting out of our own end zone.  Then that celebration was topped by another "We did it!" press conference yesterday celebrating the ball reaching the 2-yard line--with 8-million people having "registered".  Hand me the pom-poms when there is 100% coverage, falling premiums and lower out-of-pocket costs for everyone.

If history is any indication, Presidents will never get to celebrate their own "victories".  It was Truman who ended World War II--not Roosevelt.  George H W Bush marked the fall of the Berlin Wall--not Ronald Reagan.  And who knows what President will be able to talk about what a great ally Iraq is in fostering democracy in the Middle East and fighting the spread of militant Islam as well.

Perhaps our overly exuberant leaders should consider the restraint shown by Winston Churchill after the British defeated the Nazis in the battle of El Alamein in 1942--driving the Germans out of Egypt:

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

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