The Senate has accepted that a public healthcare option is unreachable. Polling has increasingly shown that it’s not popular among the majority of respondents. And a president is at risk of demolishing his entire term and burying the possibility of reelection for daring to press on against the rising tide of opposition. Some of my friends on the extreme left would call that heroic. I call it just plain dumb. Politics, they say, is the art of the possible. It’s about constantly seeking out a coalition of 50% of the population plus one person. It’s a simple matter of math and right now, Mr. President, you don’t have the votes. You don’t have the popular support. And you don’t have the political good-will left to twist arms in Congress.
With that said, the president does have an opportunity, here. He has the opportunity to get the 70 or 80% solution. He has the opportunity to do what really great politicians have made their careers doing – Compromise. Insisting that reform must be all one thing or all the other is a sure recipe for failure. Follow the example of Speaker O’Neill and President Reagan on taxes in the early 80s. If the study of politics teaches us anything it’s that nothing good lies down the road of absolutism. Right now, both parties have the ability to walk away with something approximating a win. Wait too long and the moment passes… And then a pox on both your houses.
OK, the duly elected and sworn President of the United States wants to give a short speech to students about the value of education and hard work; controversial topics, to be sure. I’m not sure I’m feeling the outrage, though. Whether you love him, hate him, or are totally indifferent towards him, the guy is the president. I don’t see the impending harm of allowing students to watch and listen to the leader of the free world talking about issues that will impact them. Has the fabric of our civic discourse become so brittle that even hearing a view that differs from our own risks destroying our individual political beliefs? Are we so incapable of building a rational argument to support our point of view that the highest form of argument we’re capable of is throwing a five-year old’s tantrum and whining, “I’m not listening?”
For those who are keeping their kids at home that day, think about the message you are sending to your children. You’re saying that your own views are so weakly held that they won’t stand up to scrutiny or discussion. You’re saying that it’s better to tune out altogether than to engage in the discussion at all. If you truly believe that a 30-minute speech by a politician will undo the 16 or 17 years of influence you have had on your kids, then honestly, I feel bad for you. Living with that kind of insecurity must be tough. If you want to do right by your kids, encourage them to join the fray, to discuss, to develop and refine their own opinions, to ask the hard questions and seek the difficult truths. If you’re afraid of doing that, then lord, I don’t even want to know you.
I’m all for people showing initiative during these economically challenging times. However, taping an “official” looking offer to paint my house number on the curb to the mailbox may have not been your most savvy business decision (Although it’s hard not to take you too seriously when you lead off your title with extra exclamation points!!!!! That way I know what you’re selling must be really, really important). I particularly like the effort you took to let me know how crucial these numbers were when one of the emergency services was looking for my house. Trying to edge nervous people towards paying you the $20 “fee” was definitely a smart move. Of course recommending that I just leave $20 taped to my front door was a pure stroke of genius. And it was nice knowing that you offered a discount if I ordered “multiples.” I can only assume that means if I wanted you to paint multiple numbers on my curb… in front of this one house. The head of your marketing department must have a MBA. I can usually tell, you know.
Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to take advantage of your service at this time. Best of luck with the curb painting, or hubcap stealing, or whatever it is you happen to be doing tomorrow. In fact, I should probably leave you a tip for your efforts. After tomorrow afternoon, I’ll know which of my neighbors are truly dumb as stumps. I guess I’ll just consider that an extra perk of your service.