Bob Franken

King Features Column

(As usual, because of the arrangement with the sydicators, this column appears here at least a week after its newspaper release)


“It is a beautiful night for political football”.

Chances are the news anchors won’t say that but they should. They and their colorless color analysts will be doing play-by-play of a presidential address to a joint session of the House and Senate about the nation’s debilitating unemployment.

Significant as that should be, our government’s leaders have managed to reduce the event into nothing more than a part of the pregame show leading up to the NFL season opener.

After all, some amateurish heavy-handedness by the opposing sides had threatened to schedule the speech in the Capitol at the same time the gridiron professionals were playing smashmouth at their own stadium, Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

Once Washington’s best and brightest realized just about all of us would choose to watch the giant athletes collide, the small minded officials hastily decided to set aside their pettiness and do their thing beforehand.

The White House had already fumbled on the first play. What a bad call it was to try originally to schedule the congressional appearance on Wednesday night. And what a coincidence that the Democratic administration chose the precise time Republican candidates seeking to take Barack Obama’s job from him would be debating in California.

Maybe they should just wait to let Obama simply hand it to one of them, since he seems to be hellbent on forfeiting. It was predictable to everyone but him that he would be sacked for a big loss by Speaker John Boehner, who defended his team’s turf with a No-Way-Mr.-President

Come to think of it, maybe the Packers and Saints will be providing a postgame show, following the pushing and shoving in the Capitol. Whatever happens, our nation’s leaders have once again left a widespread impression they’re out of their league

If the D’s versus the R’s played by pigskin rules, instead of their piggish ones, the House floor would be littered with yellow flags. But they don’t.

For example, while blocking behind the back is a major gridiron violation, it isn’t in DC where most everything is done behind the back. And while the fundamental part of football involves blocking and tackling, here in Never-Never land it’s only blocking, as in preventing anyone from coming up with any solutions to the problems which are dragging us to the ground.

As we all know, the two sides in the NFL dispute were able to overcome their differences and get the ball flying before the regular season began. Hard feelings were set aside in favor of football’s hard knocks. Once again, the fans are happy.

Politics has fewer and fewer fans. It has also been described as a contact sport, but by now, the onlookers, meaning us had already become turned off by what it had become. We’ve all seen the polls that reflect that. The combatants here made sure they added to the widespread disgust by picking a completely unnecessary and petty fight and reinforcing the belief that they are unable and/or unwilling to cooperate no matter how urgent the need.

What is so infuriating is what’s happening to the country while they’re thrashing around. As we know,the latest figures show that the economy failed to produce any jobs whatsoever in the August reporting period 9.1 per cent officially tallied, which translates to 14 million very worried people. Add to that another 10 million underemployed and those who have simply given up looking. and also add the millions who are scared their jobs might be the next ones to disappear. It’s a dismal dismal economic structure that our politicians continue to vandalize.

We all lose, even sports teams,as more and more Americans suffer hardship, fewer and fewer can afford to buy their tickets, or much else for that matter.

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