On Spiking The Football

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

President Barack Obama secretly flew to Afghanistan this week to address our country and theirs regarding the ongoing wartime operations there as well as frame our future military involvement overseas.  The speech just happened to coincide with the anniversary of the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

Even before the wheels of Air Force One touched down on foreign soil, the politicization of killing Bin Laden had many pundits and politicians on the right crying foul.  Many Republicans attempted to throw a flag for excessive celebration.

Much of the early week’s political talk took issue with Obama’s use of killing Bin Laden in an ad as well as asserting that Mitt Romney wouldn’t have made the call to send Seal Team 6 into Pakistan to bring justice to the mastermind of 9/11.  If that was spiking the football, then the victory lap the President took in Afghanistan was punctuated was akin to signing it, throwing the ball into the stands and blowing a kiss as one of my left leaning friends gingerly goaded on Facebook.

Republicans using their air time to complain about this are wasting their time and bordering on sour grapes.  The one thing that those complaining about end zone dances usually have in common is that they’ve just watched the other team score.  On them. 

The simple fact is both Republicans and Democrats wanted Bin Laden.  America got him.  The Democrats didn’t, and the Republicans didn’t.  The country did.

The effort took the work of both Presidents Bush and Obama, and thousands who dutifully served this country under each.  Obama, however, was the one at 1600 Avenue when the actionable intelligence arrived as to Bin Laden’s location.  He gets to claim credit, and celebrate any way he wants.  The public is more than capable of judging whether his use of the facts in campaign ads is over the top.  Politicians and pundits are not needed for color commentary on the replay.

Republicans spending time on this detracts from public discussion on issues that will be relevant to whomever is in the office beyond January 2013.  There is no need to have a national debate on how the second anniversary of Bin Laden’s death should be celebrated.

Republicans must be reminded early and often that this election is about the economy and internalize James Carville’s mantra for Bill Clinton: It’s the economy stupid.

Even on this core issue, Republicans are using the wrong playbook.  There are definite signs within the economy that stabilization from the financial collapse of 2008 has occurred in many areas, with other areas showing tangible improvement.  Too many Republicans wish to deny this fact, as if acknowledging that the country’s economic foundations are not in a death spiral cedes the economic issue.  It does not.

Republicans should instead point to the fact that most of the stabilization has occurred since they took control of the House and gained enough votes in the Senate to filibuster bills effectively.  While gridlock is not the chosen policy of most voters, the term “uncertainty” is no longer in the lede of most stories on the economy.  For businesses and investors choosing how to place their bets, the gridlock of the last year and a half has provided a much greater sense of stability than the new regulation/policy/spending proposal that was the ever present business climate during Obama’s first two years.

Republicans should not sell gridlock either, but should present a clear, concise policy of tax and spending reform that will move the country from two years of flat lined stability into a new phase of long term economic growth.  Without the power of incumbency, the time allotted for a Presidential candidate to communicate this to the media is limited.  Whining about spiking a football is either a sign of misplaced priorities or that there is no actual clear, concise plan to present as an alternative.

Voters in November won’t be choosing who gets to kill Bin Laden again.  They will get to choose the direction that government trends with respect to tax and economic policies.  Republicans need to bury the Bin Laden carping as deep as Bin Laden is buried himself, and get on with finalizing and articulating the contrast of what Republican leadership would look like on issues that matter.


  1. double-eagle says:

    Bordering on sour grapes huh. I hear this kind of stuff all the time from moderates who feighn the desire to stay above the fray rather than get down and dirty with the left. Always thinking that somehow thats convincing to the voting public.

    If someone punches you, you punch back and the left has no problem throwing punches. I say we start fighting fire with fire. I couldn’t care less what the left, or moderates for that matter, think about how the right chooses to show it’s outrage over a President who constently displays his narcicistic ways.

    • Calypso says:

      That whooooshing sound you just heard was Charlie’s point flying quickly over the head of double-eagle.

      • double-eagle says:

        No. I believe it was the sound of you rushing over to be near Charlie. ; )

        I just think that anything this President does, is fair game. Anything. Whats good for the goose is good for the gander. The left was relentless against GWB. He deserved some of it, some of it he didn’t, but in the end the left showed they are willing to keep up the heat and not back off. We need to not back off either.

    • NoTeabagging says:

      Left, Right,..Left, Right.. Sucker Punch. Why don’t we just put candidates and political parties in the Thunderdome and let them fight it out? That’s where we are heading, just get on with it.

  2. billdawers says:

    Excellent column. I especially like this sentence: “Too many Republicans wish to deny this fact, as if acknowledging that the country’s economic foundations are not in a death spiral cedes the economic issue. ”

    Down here in Savannah, we just had Whole Foods announce they’ve signed a lease (making us surely one of the smallest metros that has the chain), we’ve seen the announcement of a couple of new hotels downtown, and there’s been more small business investment activity in the downtown activity than I can remember since well before things crashed in 2007. Yet there’s a big group that just keeps insisting that the economy is getting worse by the day.

    Excellent column.

  3. Doug Deal says:

    Written as we approach the debt limit again with O’s foot firmly planted on the accelerator. Virtually every chronic disease has periods of remission, but to think that equates to a cure is foolish.

    Every fundamental problem we had still exists and in many cases is worse. What do you think has been happening with student loans and college tuition? Commercial real estate is still a big problem and “undocumented” workers are not self deporting because they are confident about recovery.

  4. gcp says:

    Strange that Repubs are more upset about Obama’s excessive celebration as opposed to expressing outrage over our continued involvement in the Afghanistan mess. Do the Repubs or Romney even have an exit plan?

    • double-eagle says:

      Corrections. Republicans are not “more” upset. They are equally upset with everything the man does and there is nothing wrong with it either.

  5. I Miss the 90s says:

    As per usual..I disagree with Charlie.

    If a republican president took out.bin laden and made.a.campaign.commercial about.it you would be fine with it all. That didn’t happen and now you are whining.

    The gop lead house did not really accomplish anything legislatively, so trying to make lemonade from sour grapes is kind of pointless. The only thing the house gop has done other than eventually giving into the president has been lowering the s&p bond rating for.treasuries.

    • I Miss the 90s says:

      I will add, in case it was not abundantly clear a moment ago, that correlation does not mean causation. The gop may have been in the house, but economy turned around on democratic party policies. Not on 2 years of do nothingness.

      • saltycracker says:

        Now that’s funny….a few trillion on my credit card would turn my economy around too…

  6. Doug Grammer says:

    I agree that the economy should be and will be the main focus of the fall election for the Presidency. I am hoping for massive tax reform, but as long as the Dems maintain 40+ votes in the Senate, I’m not overly hopeful for it. It’s not just Republicans who are unimpressed with our economy. 70% of the country still thinks we are in a recession.

    I give credit to President Obama deciding that Seal Team Six should take out Bin Laden instead of using a drone or cruise missile. I will agree that we scored, but the President didn’t score on the Republicans. We, the people, scored on Al queda. Excessive celebration still gets a flag, no matter which team is doing the end zone dance. I remember seeing some countries celebrating after 9/11. That didn’t sit well with me. While I am perfectly fine with the US military killing our enemies, the trip to Afghanistan didn’t HAPPEN to be on the 1 year anniversary of Bin Laden’s death. It was planned….. for political points at home. If we are going to discuss a subject, at least let’s be real about what we are talking about.

    I do find it a bit ironic that everything is President Bush’s fault, but the info was gathered using President Bush’s policies that President Obama has not and would not have used. We may have killed Bin Laden on President Obama’s watch, but I disagree that he gets sole credit for it. I hope we don’t celebrate Bin Laden’s death a year from now. We should put it in the done column and face what we will do with an Iran with a nuclear weapon. I hope they don’t have one a year from now. We will see.

    How we deal with threats ARE issues that matter. If we have a President who continually ignores the advice of his generals and sets time-tables to remove troops to score re-election points, eventually, that will come back to haunt us. I don’t disagree that we should end wars, I just think we should do so smartly in a way that helps protect what we’ve been fighting for as much as possible. The 3 AM phone call is still an issue for me.

    I think it’s not as important as record foreclosures, under reported unemployment, and higher gas prices than what we should have, but the President leaning over to tell the Russians just to give him some time is still a serious matter. Having a foreign policy that is about getting reelected as a higher priority over protecting the American people is something that will also be discussed this Fall.

  7. John Konop says:

    It is the economy…………..

    Our foreign policy has been a mess since we adopted the NEOCON policemen of the world, nation building strategy. This policy has drained our resources and not really made us any safer in the long run. Occupying countries has been a failed strategy, and brought down many countries over time.

    As far as the economy we are now competing in a global world. Like or not our infrastructure is crumpling and without real investment we are falling behind countries like China, Brazil…….. And if we do not invest in a new grid line, transportation………we are setting up a failed future for our kids. The biggest issue is us, no one is really ready to sacrifice anything for the future. Seniors want their entitlements subsidized at unsustainable levels, Some of the very wealthy want lower taxes, and do care about infrastructure or the future of our country for all.

    We can implement a few pragmatic ideas that would help for the future:

    1) A tax system that eliminates all special write offs. This would put small business and big business on an equal playing field.
    2) Let seniors buy drugs from the VA at 60% discount instead of having tax payers pay 75% of the cost at a price 60% higher.
    3) Invest in infrastructure based on needs not political pay-offs.
    4) Allow and implement public exchanges for health care letting small businesses and individuals save 20% of healthcare cost
    5) Decriminalize drugs saving us billions of dollars
    6) End the policemen of the world foreign policy savings us trillions of dollars

    The above is just a start. But the problem is us, as seen on some of the comments on this thread. Many people would rather this be a tribal football game rather than solve anything. And unless we work together and stop the us verse them mentality, we will sell off our future brick by brick. And I know some of you would rather of seen a blood and guts post from Charlie calling for “Custards’ Last Stand”

    • Harry says:

      I agree with your points, which are basically Ron Paul. I would add one (of many) other idea relating to health care. Rather that bankrupting ourselves over more and more entitlement programs, the federal should give grants to several NGOs to show which of them can come up with a pilot program to reduce cost of delivery of medical services to the general population through cutting overhead and middlemen.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      John, add changeover to a chained CPI to your list. (A chained CPI accounts for the consumer substitutions that occur when there are differential increases in substitutable products.)

      A chained CPI would contribute $300M to deficit reduction over a decade. The two standout items are it would restrain Social Security increases by ~$100M, and increase taxes by a similar amount. (Not to worry about the latter, conservatives, I think the tax increase will disportionately fall on the middle class.)

      • John Konop says:

        This was from the gang of 6……………………

        ………”One of the problems of inflation is it doesn’t account for the fact that when the price of apples goes up, you buy oranges or bananas,” Goldwein pointed out.

        “So the way we’re calculating inflation now tends to overstate the change in prices?” I asked.

        “That’s right,” he said. “Most experts believe this leads inflation to be overstated by about three-tenths of a percentage point per year.”

        That might not sound like much. But many federal programs grow at the rate of inflation. Over time, even a slightly lower growth rate produces big savings. Goldwein says the bulk of those savings comes in later years, which is just what the economy needs.

        “We don’t want to be cutting severely into the budget right now, because the economy is so weak,” Goldwein said. “But we do need deficit reduction over the medium and long term. And we do need to reassure the markets as soon as possible that deficit reduction is coming.”

        Changing the inflation measure would also produce more tax revenue, because tax brackets would adjust more slowly. Over a decade, Goldwein estimates, the switch would shave about $300 billion off the deficit, with a mix of about 70 percent spending cuts and 30 percent higher taxes……….


  8. racinwithrex says:

    Funny how MSNBC didn’t make it a countdown on days since Killing Bin Laden like they did Bush for flying the banner on the Air Carrier! But then again the left would laugh at the fact that I am refering to the media! Heck I may not know how to fix the economy but the fact of sending in the Seals to get the job done was an easy call to make… At least we won’t have to hear ten years later about what kinda clothes the women in the courtroom are wearing at the JOKE of the trial going on right now!

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