Red State/Blue State

Iron Mike knows football, and he’s not bad at politics


A political discussion between Red State conservative Dave Simpson – a former reporter, editor, publisher and columnist- and Greg Bean, Blue Stater and executive editor of Greater Media Newspapers. Let us know what you think.

Dear Greg:

What can football greatMikeDitka teach us about politics, youmight ask?

Well, I’ll tell youwhathe canteachusabout politics. I sawhimontelevisionthispastweekend and theywanted toknowwhathe thought about the people running for president.

Apparently the blanket, 24-hour, all-election all-the-time news coverage has now exhausted every politician and smug pundit under the sun, and nowthey’re turning to exfootball coaches for comments. Actually, Ditka was a logical choice, because he thought about running against your guy Barack back in 2004 for a Senate seat.

And, as it turns out, he had something interesting to say. IronMike patiently explained that we have “checks and balances” in this country- kind of like he had to dealwith his nemesis Buddy Ryan back in 1985- and regardless of what these jokers say about solving all our problems, it ain’t that easy.

It was kind of like going back to civics class, Greg, as Da Coach explained that we have three branches of government. (Who’d a thunk it?) And, just because a president wants “change,” and national health insurance, and a lot of other swell stuff, there’s also this thing called Congress, and specifically, the U.S. Senate, where it takes 60 votes just to decide to go to lunch. (Garrison Keillor once said the Senate is like a bus on which every passenger has his own brake pedal.)

Inthose circumstances, change canbeabout as easy as giving dry birth to a porcupine.

So, Da Coach, who took a lot of blows to the head during his career, nevertheless has a better grasp on this thanmost of us, especially when it comes to how likely these “changes” actually are.By comparison,most of us in the media talk about these candidates “running the economy” and turningWashington on its head as if we were electing a dictator for life, or an emperor, not amere president.

Like herpes, it’s a tougher problem than they let on, and just as stubborn. For example, as far as I can see, there’s no known cure for earmarked pork, regardless ofwhat these flimflamartists say at election time.

The good news is that the system is pow- erful enough to survive any president, even Jimmy Carter. (Remember him?) Iron Mike doesn’t seemto be losing any sleep over any of this, and neither should we.

I predict the sunwill come up the day after the election, even if Hillary is elected.

In closing this week, Greg, Imust respond to your request lastweek that I “eat crow”over Rudy’s departure from the campaign. What can I say, Greg? That dog wouldn’t hunt. I’m disappointed, and now I have to go out in the cold and scrape his bumper sticker offmy van.

Given enough time, these people will all break your heart. So bring on the crow, pal, and if you don’t mind, I’d like mine with a littleWorcestershire sauce.

Whatever happens, you’ll be joining me, sooner or later.

Count on it,

Red State Dave

Dear Dave:

You know, a few hours before the Super Bowl, I was listening to a couple of political talking heads on another channel and they were so desperate to generate interest inwhat they were saying, their whole conversation was dedicated to trying to find a way to liken the Super Bowl to the presidential primaries.

These political hacks talking about football is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen, I thought to myself. Then, a while later, there was Iron Mike talking about politicians and I realized that nomatter howweird things are, they can always get weirder. You know what Hunter Thompson said about that: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

But I agreewith your basic premise.Whatever ailments Ditka suffers as a result of his football career, it isn’t brain damage fromgetting his noggin whacked around. He made more sense than almost any pundit or prognosticator I’ve heard expounding over the course of the entire primary season. I also agree with your contention (I’m so agreeable today that I keep expecting a piano to drop out of the sky to spoil my agreeableness by squashingme like a doodlebug) that nomatter which party the president comes from, he or she is not always able to initiate that much change alone. There are three branches of government and between them they can make it painful to birth those porcupines you were talking about.

There’s nothing more frustrating to watch than a president fromone party trying to pass initiatives when the Congress is full of members of the other party. It’s like playing football without a helmet against the entire defensive line of theNewYorkGiants.After a dozen or so plays you’re singing “Raindrops Keep Falling onMy Head” as you lurch around, dodging all the stars floating in front of your eyes. Next thing you know, you’ve planted your face in the ground and you’re picking blades of artificial turf frombetween what’s left of your teeth.

There’s something happening these days that might make the birthing process a mite less prickly for the next president, however, if that president is aDemocrat.As you know, the Dems now enjoy a slight majority in the U.S. House and Senate, but because so many incumbent Republicans have seen the writing on thewall and say theywon’t seek additional terms, that slightmajoritymight transmogriphy into a mass of congressional votes that would allow a Democratic president to get things done. And if that president is the kind of person who can also spark the hope, imagination and support of the public, great things can happen. Lots of folk think Obama might be theman tomake that kind ofmagic.

I’ve noticed a new spring in my step recently and I realize it’s because my sense of idealism, which had the dog slobber knocked out of it by Shrub, et al., is coming out of hibernation. I thinkwe’ll do better than survive, Dave. I think we’ll thrive.

On to November,

Blue State Greg

You can reach Greg Bean at gbean @gmnews. com. Dave Simpson can be reached at