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What a state we're in

February 26, 2009

I caught myself watching the "Don't Call It a State of the Union" speech this week, and all I could think of was -- what ever happened to the War on Drugs?

What was it, the late '80s when the only words that came out of any given politician's mouth were drugs, war and on. You would stop a Congress member on the street and ask for the time and he would answer "war on drugs, war on drugs, war on drugs."

So what happened? Did we win? Well, no. Drugs are as big a problem as ever, if not more so. The difference is we just stopped talking about it and eventually it went away, as a political issue, at least.

I bring this up because I think it provides an excellent blueprint for how to deal with the current economic crisis. Instead of talking about it, let's ignore it. It can't hurt us if we don't acknowledge its existence.

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Instead of fretting over the next house payment, just stand up tall and proud and say, "What financial crisis? I'm going out to eat. And on the way, I might buy a new pair of designer sunglasses."

I hate all this stuff about frugal being the new chic. That's loser talk. Frugal doesn't put a new Lincoln MKZ in the driveway. Frugal doesn't allow you to let your car run for 20 minutes in the morning to melt the frost off the windshield instead of using an ice scraper. Frugal doesn't allow you to throw away brown paper lunch bags after one use.

Maybe I'm just feeling ornery about the situation because President Obama's to-do list makes me feel so inadequate.

Obama's to-do list: Fix the economy, end the war, ease the credit markets, provide universal health care, reform bloated agriculture subsidies, cure cancer, stop global warming, cut the deficit and prevent foreclosures.

My to-do list: Get my emissions system inspected and shovel the manure out of the chicken coop.

Of course, the president probably will be able to check everything off his list and I still won't have gotten around to the chicken coop, sad to say.

The other reason to ignore the economy is I just don't trust this Congress to do anything about it. I mean, and there is no way to put this delicately, did you see them all out there in the audience? You can handle them one at a time, but seeing them all together at once is somewhat terrifying. It's like a very bad circus came to town.

You have Rep. Charles B. Rangel doing his best "what people looked like at the turn of the 18th century" impression; Sen. Christopher J. Dodd and his ever expanding white bouffant that seems to be rising like a batch of yeast roll dough sitting on a warm kitchen counter; Speaker Nancy Pelosi with that perpetual grin -- resembling a happy clown delivering balloons to a toddler's birthday party -- that might take a surgical procedure to remove.

And Rep. John Boehner? Dude, feel free to skip the next couple of appointments at the tanning bed. You're starting to get that orange glow that mimics nuclear radiation exposure on a butternut squash.

All told, not a group that inspires confidence. And what was this group of leaders doing during the speech? Twittering, the Washington Post reports. Great. We're in a catastrophe and they're posting one-line bloglettes, including "Capt Sully is here -- awesome!" and "Aggie basketball game is about to start on espn2 for those of you that aren't going to bother watching pelosi smirk for the next hour."

And we wonder why we're in trouble.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com.

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