Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Punter And The Quarterback

To use a football analogy you've got a punter and a quarterback.  The punter runs on the field, kicks the ball quickly and hopes that his teammates make the tackle on the return so he doesn't have to get his uniform dirty.  The quarterback is determined to take his team to victory.  He is not afraid to put everything on the line to do it.   If he has to scramble, he won't be sliding to avoid getting tackled.  He is all in to win.

The punter-President Barack Obama.  The quarterback-House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan.

Evan Thomas is a columnist for Newsweek who is known to lean pretty far to the left.  He once referred to Barack Obama this way, "I mean in a way Obama's standing above the country, above-above the world, he's sort of God".  I guess that the President has come back to earth to hear Thomas now.
His State of the Union was a profile in cowardice. His budget is a profile in cowardice. I hope there’s a secret plan he has here to come forward to lead us, but he hasn’t shown it yet.
This is what the liberal Washington Post said in an editorial about the President's budget.
THE PRESIDENT PUNTED. Having been given the chance, the cover and the push by the fiscal commission he created to take bold steps to raise revenue and curb entitlement spending, President Obama, in his fiscal 2012 budget proposal, chose instead to duck. 
His own guys are calling him the punter.

Let's look at the quarterback.  The Wall Street Journal's Paul Gigot interviewed Paul Ryan this past weekend in a piece called "Ryan's Charge Up Entitlement Hill".  It is worth reading in full but here are a few of the highlights.
Has the president ever called him to talk? "Never once," he says, notwithstanding Mr. Obama's many public statements that he wants "aggressive" conversations with Republicans, especially Mr. Ryan. "He keeps saying that," says the Wisconsin native, but "they don't talk to us. It just doesn't really happen. I don't know what else to say." 
The President has not spoken with the House Budget Chairman even once despite the fact that we are going to run a $1.65 billion deficit this year, the government runs out of money on March 4 based on the current continuing resolution and the debt ceiling limit will be reached in a month or so after that?

What's the White House political calculation behind its budget? "The fiscal strategy is to hang on to all the government we've grown, and hopefully rhetoric will get us through the moment. It strikes me as a posture or position to keep the gains of the last two years in place—the bump up in discretionary spending, the creation of these new entitlements—to lock in their gains, bank their wins, and then hang on through the rest of this year. And they believe they have the flourishing rhetorical skills to navigate the politics in the meantime," Mr. Ryan says. 
In other words, this is a "rope-a- dope" strategy designed to try to kick the can down the road and hope the Republicans show leadership.  At that time the Democratic attack machine kicks in decrying the evil Republicans who want grandma and grandpa to eat dog food.

Could Republicans be walking into a political trap?  "That's what everybody says, but I don't really spend much time thinking about it because I don't really care. . . . All the political people tell us this. Even the Democrats tell us this. That it's a trap, it's rope-a-dope. . . . It doesn't matter," he says.
"The way I look at things is if you want to be good at this kind of job, you have to be willing to lose it. Number two, the times require this. And number three, if you don't believe in your principles, and applying those principles, then what's the point?" He mentions limited government and economic freedom. "I believe these are the best solutions. I believe they will result in growth and opportunity for the country." 
It is interesting that at this critical juncture about our nation's fiscal future, two Republicans from Wisconsin, Paul Ryan and Governor Scott Walker, are center stage.  Wisconsin has not voted for a Republican in a Presidential election since 1984.   It is also interesting that the Wisconsin state song lyrics are as follows (compliments of Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard):

On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Grand old Badger State!
We, your loyal sons and daughters,
Hail thee, good and great.
On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Champion of the right,
"Forward", our motto,
God will give thee might!
How can you top those words?  Champion. Forward. God.  There is no mention of a Hail Mary but the quarterback is trying to pull this one off before we get that desperate. We look pretty good at the quarterback position with Ryan.  I am still not sure about the punter.  He might be better suited to basketball.  However, there are no free throws in this league.

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